The Mind of the Electorate

Monday, April 06, 2009

Michael Grunwald, national correspondent for Time Magazine, on how the Obama White House uses behavioral science.


Michael Grunwald

Comments [17]

James B from NYC

If folks is too dumb to live their lives rationally without bein' 'nudged' by udder folks who nose betta den dey do....what's that say about the possibilities for Democracy - self-government by the nimble brained? Concede the need for paternalist 'nudgin' & u undermine the idea of equality & Democracy. Turns out we ain't REALLY all equal - some of us nose betta den udders. If so, den let dem dat nose, do da govern'.

Apr. 07 2009 01:46 AM
ronald kaprov from riverdale, ny

Here's a link to where Behavior Science first appeared in the national discourse. The name of the 19-part video series, an extraordinary one, is called The Happiness Machine. It was first orchestrated by Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud. The clip mentioning Calvin Coolidge is part 3 of the series. It can be seen on YouTube:

Apr. 06 2009 01:20 PM
Jolly D from NYC

1) Many organizations have suspended their 401(K), 403(b) contributions. No More "Like Free Money"

2) Most people who fell for this Wall St. con have lost not only the "Like Free Money" but lots of the principle.
How long are you willing to wait to break even? 2 yrs, 5 yrs, 10 yrs, eternity?

3) Don't confuse "lazy" behavior with being uninformed or misinformed.

4) 401(k) plans are NOT retirement savings (not Savings) it is called "investing". ha ha ha. (only someone that is very misinformed would believe that).

5) Many of the "cash equivalents" in these plans are 'Sable Value Funds' which are now not so stable (google it) and finally, 99.9% of plan administrators will refuse to add a truly safe way to save, Short-term treasuries MMF alternative. (they refuse!)

May all sentient beings be free of suffering.

Apr. 06 2009 10:55 AM

problem with micro tax rebates rather than big lumps:

by putting a bit of $$ in your paycheck every week,

credit card companies

will increase their fees enough to capture the micro rebates.

credit card companies think of such an easy source of revenue automatically.

Apr. 06 2009 10:43 AM
hjs from 11211

how is this different from the marketing we face every day of our lives?

Apr. 06 2009 10:42 AM
Bob O'Rourke from westchester

I'm all for personal responsibility - I work in character education, but I don't believe this country's problems end there. The public needs to be protected from predatory lenders. Our economic system thrives on usury -- unless this is remedied there will always be grave disparities between rich and poor -- those who win and those who lose.
What about the behavioral science that shows how reciprocal altruism - primarily responsible for our evolutionary survival - can be applied to our economic system

Apr. 06 2009 10:42 AM

does it occur to you YET that some people had smarter, wiser things to do w their $$ than put it in a 401K (which invested in AIG, merill, boa, etc) !

Imagine how much worse this country would have been if ss had been privatized as Bush proposed.

Apr. 06 2009 10:39 AM
Alvin from Manhattan

Congress has engaged in this "libertarian paternalism" for years. Examples:
The Schumer Box on credit card applications, showing interest rate, grace period, etc.
The Mulroney Sticker on cars, showing MPG, base and final cost, etc.
There's nothing revolutionary about extending this to mortgages and other products.

Apr. 06 2009 10:38 AM
Annie from NYC

The fact is that decisions today are way too complicated -- and often our short-term individual wants are in conflict with longer-term collective needs. So if the government can step in and make it easier for me to do the right thing (while still giving me the option to choose) I'll take it!

Apr. 06 2009 10:38 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

wow this guest is insane...the gubmit is gonna tell us the best way to live!!!! MY GOD!

Apr. 06 2009 10:37 AM
michael from NYC

Transparancy and explaining to non PhD People what the law is and other legal explanations?

Isn't this what the FOUNDING FATHERS WANTED???

Obama, the ultimate patriot!!!

Apr. 06 2009 10:35 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

if u give people a nudge they will do the right thing for themselves and their country...who determines that Brian? good tie in to the housing coulda been solved if we used behavioral science....
I am concerned for us people...we are told that government wants to help us again...

Apr. 06 2009 10:35 AM

this man is simply arguing for properly paid business journalists.

argument for state run media in the area of business journalism.

Apr. 06 2009 10:34 AM
Hugh from Brookyn

Maybe Obama can get his Thought Police to work on Summers and company. Maybe Summers will then resist kickbacks from Goldman Sachs and others. And perhaps someone in the Obama administration will step down from their pedestals of wealth and put themselves in the shoes of average Americans.

By the way, Cass Sunstein is a professor of law at Chicago -- why is he on a Thought Police team.

Goolsbee, Orszag, and Summers -- if they do indeed know anything about behavior -- should turn their eyes on themselves. All are ardent supporters of rampant deregulation and played a role in the making of the meltdown.

Apr. 06 2009 10:31 AM
Priya from Brooklyn

I am guessing Naomi Wolfe is not in this panel.

Apr. 06 2009 10:30 AM
Lars Hanson from Manhattan

President Obama,

Is already psyching me out...why 29 and not 30?!

Apr. 06 2009 10:28 AM
Gabrielle from brooklyn

When was applied behavioral psychology first introduced into White House politics? Is there a dark history attributed to its use in America? (ie. German State propaganda used by the Nazi regime, etc., etc.)

Apr. 06 2009 08:39 AM

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