We live in a world of screens. Many of us now spend the majority of our waking lives interacting with technological devices. Behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi is studying how we think differently on screens—how we respond to different nudges, and make choices we wouldn’t make offline. The implications for educators, healthcare providers, retailers, and policy makers are profound.
“This book is a real eye-opener. It describes how we really function in a screen-based society, and how the digital world is changing our thinking about ourselves and others.”— Robert Shiller, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics
Speaker Shlomo Benartzi is a professor and co-chair of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He’s interested in combining the insights of economics and psychology to produce positive change on a massive scale. His new book is The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior (with Jonah Lehrer). Benartzi’s end goal in studying online behavior is to improve decision-making for millions of people. He is also the author of Save More Tomorrow and Thinking Smarter.
In late 2015, Benartzi launched (and became Chief Scientist for) the California Digital Nudge Initiative: a collaboration with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León to better serve the state of California and transform government-level operations. Along with Richard Thaler (co-author of Nudge), he also pioneered the Save More Tomorrow™ program (SMarT), designed to help employees increase their savings rates over time. At one organization, SMarT increased employee savings rates from 3.5% to 13.6%. The program is now offered by more than half of the large retirement plans in the U.S. and a growing number of plans worldwide. It’s also been incorporated in the Pension Protection Act of 2006, helping millions of Americans boost their retirement savings.
Benartzi has also advised government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, and has helped craft numerous legislative efforts. He has worked with financial institutions, and currently serves as an academic advisor and chief behavioral economist for the Allianz Global Investors Center for Behavioral Finance. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.
On Screens Using Behavioral Economics to Make the Most of Our Digital Life
Shlomo Benartzi’s studies into digital behavior have shown us how the cues, frames, and nudges that influence our choices on screens are drastically different from the ones that work in the analog world. Long story short: the medium really is the message. His findings have massive implications. They suggest, for example, that many of the behavioral fixes of the 20th century are obsolete in the 21st; the old rules no longer apply (for instance, the “default nudge”—the way we tend to choose the default option when presented with a difficult decision—is far less effective in the online world). But, as Benartzi argues, this also opens up new possibilities to help people make the right choices. In this talk, he looks at a wide range of issues and opportunities that touch on everything from education, retail, marketing, and policy decision-making. The digital revolution is changing how we behave in all sorts of subtle and surprising ways. If we want to take advantage of this new world, then we need to revise our models of human behavior. We need to think differently about how we think.