Scott Koenig

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    We’re Killing Ourselves with Work

    Evolution favors less work and more leisure.

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    Does Social Media Poison Everything?

    We have far less control over our behavior than we like to think.

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    How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science

    In the interplay between behavioral science and policy, puffs of smoke abound.Photo illustration by metamorworks / Shutterstock In March the United Kingdom curiously declined to impose significant social distancing measures in response to the global pandemic. The government was taking advice from several parties, among them the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral […]

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    The Pandemic Is Showing Us How to Live with Uncertainty

    During the Spanish flu of 1918, it was Vick’s VapoRub. During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, it was canned food. Now, as the number of cases of COVID-19 grows worldwide, it’s, among other things, toilet paper. In times of precarity, people often resort to hoarding resources they think are likely to become scarce—panic buying, as […]

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    The Psychology of Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism

    Identifying the ingredients of an effective argument.

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    Is the Psychology of Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism Effective?

    Greta Thunberg may have weighted her U.N. remarks toward care and fairness, but she didn’t omit loyalty. “You are failing us,” she said. “But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”Photograph by Liv Oeian / Shutterstock Last month, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist, excoriated world leaders for their ongoing failure to address […]

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    Our Aversion to A/B Testing on Humans Is Dangerous

    Research suggests that people have an irrational aversion to A/B tests, which could limit the extent to which important institutions like hospitals, legislatures, and corporations base their decisions on objective evidence.Photograph by Fernando Cortes / Shutterstock Facebook once teamed up with scientists at Cornell to conduct a now-infamous experiment on emotional contagion. Researchers randomly assigned […]

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    The Case for Being Skeptical of Moral Outrage

    If, as the research shows, our moral outrage is highly sensitive to actions but not consequences, we might want to treat feelings of moral outrage—whether others’ or our own—skeptically. Photograph by Vjacheslav_Kozyrev / Flickr The episode last month at the Lincoln Memorial, involving the boys from Covington Catholic High School, and a Native American man, […]

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    To Persuade Someone, Look Emotional

    Asked at the start of the final 1988 presidential debate whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered, Michael Dukakis, a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, quickly and coolly said no. It was a surprising, deeply personal, and arguably inappropriate question, but in demonstrating an unwavering commitment to his […]

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    How Social Media Exploits Our Moral Emotions

    Companies profit from the pleasure we feel in expressing righteous outrage.