I wanted to share something from the cutting-room floor of my New York Times article on the psychology of financial willpower, which didn’t make final print.
In the article, I shared some of the latest research on how extraordinarily difficult it is to change our behavior: Many of us think we’re in control of the decisions we make about money, but when we simply “try harder,” our willpower often fails us and we fall right back into our old spending habits.
One powerful solution for behavioral change starts by changing your defaults. It’s not sexy and it’s not a “magic pill” — but it works.
Now, let me show you another example that you didn’t see in that article.
How to reduce infant HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa
By changing the default from opt in to opt out, the pre-natal screening no longer required “willpower” to change behavior. The results: Testing rates skyrocketed from 65% to 99%.
The implications for changing pro-social behavior are profound.
Be the Expert: How would you engineer behavioral change?
Let’s say I hire you to change the following behaviors:
- Help a busy executive lose 10lbs
- Help a careless 26-year-old save $1,500 in his savings account by June
- Help someone feel measurably happier
How would you do it using defaults?
The BEST answer gets a phone call with me, where I’ll help you pinpoint and change, amplify, or eliminate one critical behavior.