Arming the donkeys


Dan Ariely, a best-selling author and professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, is always fun to listen to. He has a lilting, mischievous voice with just a hint of a Hebrew accent– rather like an Israeli leprechaun.

He often appears on American Public Media’s daily news show Marketplace, explaining how people are “predictably irrational,” which also happens to be the title of his book.

I recently discovered that he also has a weekly podcast of his own called Arming the Donkeys (iTunes). Each episode is a short (15 minutes or less) conversation with a researcher who has something interesting to say about the way our minds work.

Some sample episodes:

Memory mistakes: what we remember and why (iTunes)
Duke University professor Alison Adcock explains that we remember better when we are emotionally aroused in some way. Ariely then suggests that students studying for exams might want to spend some time looking at pornography before hitting the books.

Spend less! Self-affirm! (iTunes)
Try this next time you go shopping. Say some self affirming phrases, like “I am smart,” or “I am good looking.” Research by Sanjay Sood of Anderson School of Management at UCLA suggests you will spend less money than you would have otherwise.

I give up. Why “Arming the Donkeys”? (iTunes)
Ariely explains the whimsical title of his podcast. Donkeys, he says, are “cute, hard-working and can clearly do many things.” They are also “not too smart, not particularly elegant and definitely stubborn….Maybe a little bit like us.” Thus the aim of the podcast is to arm ourselves with knowledge about how our brains work. In other words, we are the donkeys.

This entry was posted in Academic podcasts, Economics, Idea of the week, Psychology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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