DiscoverBehavioral Grooves Podcast
Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Author: Kurt Nelson, PhD and Tim Houlihan

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Behavioral Grooves is a discussion of the application of behavioral sciences to work and life. It's the WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO podcast. Kurt Nelson, Ph.D. and Tim Houlihan interview researchers, academics, practitioners and accidental behavioral scientists. Our conversations are lively, spontaneous, full of laughs and insights into the science behind why we do what we do. We conclude each podcast with a grooving session, recorded after the interview, where we explore the science and reflect on the key takeaways from the interview and the topics we discussed.
94 Episodes
Kurt and Tim were invited to attend the Norms and Behavioral Change (NoBeC) workshop at the University of Pennsylvania on October 17 and 18, 2019, and what we experienced blew us away. We were impressed with a terrific diversity of academic fields studying social norms, the great work they are doing, and the generosity of the community (at UPenn as well as the behavioral science researchers from around the world).This gathering was very different from industry assemblies we’ve attended, which in and of itself was not a surprise. However, there were three noteworthy differences. First, the lineup of speakers was heavily weighted toward researchers with findings on projects involving social norms. Second, academic audience members held speakers accountable for rigorous processes and the descriptions of their results. Lastly, the Q&A at the end of each presentation was filled with animated questions from economists, sociologists, political scientists, philosophers, strategists, law professors, and of course, psychologists. The cross-disciplinary aspect of this group reinforced the need for more diverse thinking in the business world.We came away with a greater appreciation of the role that social norms play in our behaviors and decision making as well as the tremendous research that’s being conducted on related topics.We will be publishing our series of interviews with researchers from the workshop in the coming weeks, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did. LinksUniversity of Pennsylvania Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences:
Paul Hebert knows incentives. He is the Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group, Inc. and a writer, speaker and consultant and is widely considered an expert on motivation and incentives focused on influencing behaviors that drive business results. Paul has been interviewed by the BBC and USA TODAY because of his work applying solid psychological theory to sales motivation.Paul, Kurt and Tim recently co-authored an eBook called “The 7 Deadly Sins to Avoid in Your Next Sales Incentive.” The purpose was to help sales managers who are struggling to maximize their effort and results when they use sales incentives. In the podcast, we recap the most common sins committed by sales managers and discuss ways of avoiding them.Spread goals evenlyGive a huge prize to the top performerMust be above quota to earnWe’ll figure it out behind the scenesUnder-quota performers can’t be winnersIt’s all about the Benjamins We hope you enjoy the discussion and recommend you download the eBook for reference.LinksPaul Hebert: Deadly Sins Ebook: Hebert’s Blog: http://wphebert.comFistful of Talent Blog: Elliot Aronson, PhD: of Citium: and Ahearne “Motivating Salespeople”: and Heyman “A Tale of Two Markets”: and Shaffer “The Effects of Tangible Rewards”: guy who traded a paper clip for a house: Price is Right: Musical Links“Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire:“Timothy” by The Bouys:“DOA” by Bloodrock: Avenue: Shakespeare: Shakespeare “The Slacks” Wilson: Hip: by Turtles: the Professors: Mighty Pines: & the 2 Dragons:
Grooving: On Goals

Grooving: On Goals


Goals are often misunderstood. Goals are much more than just objectives that are handed down to subordinates. Rather, goals are self-determined in the best cases, and at the very least, are set collaboratively to get the most out of them.We discuss Goal Setting Theory (GST), results from research that Tim conducted, and we address the three key elements that must be included to maximize the effect of the goals: 1. The goals must be perceived as achievable. Without perceived achievability, the goal is not accepted and, therefore, not a goal. 2. There must be some involvement with those who are executing the goals. If the goal is handed down from on high without meaningful participation from the person who’s going to act on it, it’s not a goal. 3. There must be a positive relationship between the goal and the reward (including a perceived assessment of risk). As the risk of achievability increases, so must the perceived value of the reward.This short grooving session also delves into some myths and how to deal with them. Ultimately, we want listeners to come away with a clear understanding of the powerful results than can be obtained with practical and effective use of self-selected goals. LinksZig Ziglar: Theory: Locke: Latham: Klein: Kivetz: Loewenstein: Bhargava: Bommaraju: Bommaraju & Sebastian Hohenberg on self-selected goals: Kurt Nelson, PhD: kurt@lanterngroup.comTim Houlihan: 
Brad Shuck, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville.  He is also recognized as one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on employee engagement and is a sought-after speaker from around the world. Brad’s work is recognized as some of the most influential research in the field of employee engagement and his insights are invaluable. On top of that, Brad is a drummer, a lover of all sorts of music and our discussion traversed topics from the social determinants of health to having parents that were patient enough to allow him to learn drums as a child.In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim dive deeper into creating a work culture of meaning and we ask the musical question: how does moving from town to town as a child impact your musical tastes?And don’t forget to join us for our 100th Episode Celebration on October 17, 2019 in Philadelphia! Eventbrite link: LinksBrad Shuck email: Brad Shuck web page: Brad Shuck Google Connection: @drbshuckTeresa Amabile: Brad’s ResearchShuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Immekus, J., Honeycutt, M., & Cumberland, D. (2019). Does compassion matter for leadership: a two-stage sequential equal status mixed method exploratory study of compassionate leader behavior and connections to performance in human resource development. Human Resource Development Quarterly, X, XX-XX. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.21369 Shuck, B., Peyton-Roberts, T., Zigarmi, D. (2018). Employee perceptions of the work environment, motivational outlooks, and employee work intentions: An HR practitioner’s dream or nightmare? Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20, 197-213. doi: 10.1177/1523422318757209Shuck, B., #Osam, K., Zigarmi, D., & Nimon, K. (2017). Definitional and conceptual muddling: Identifying the positionality of employee engagement and defining the construct. Human Resource Development Review, 16, 263-293. doi: 0.1177/1534484317720622Shuck, B., Nimon, K., & Zigarmi, D. (2017). Untangling the predictive nomological validity of employee engagement: Decomposing variance in employee engagement using job attitude measures. Group and Organizational Management. 42, 79-112. doi: 10.1177/1059601116642364 Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Rose, K., Owen, J., #Osam, K., & Bergman, M. (2017). The health-related upside of employee engagement: Exploratory evidence and implications for theory and practice. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 30, 165-178. doi: 10.1002/piq.21246   Shuck, B., Adelson, J., & Reio, T. (2017). The employee engagement scale: Initial evidence for construct validity and implications for theory and practice. Human Resource Management, 56, 953-977. doi: 10.1002/hrm.21811 Rose, K., Shuck, B., #Twyford, D., & Bergman, M. (2015). Skunked: An integrative review exploring the consequences of dysfunctional leaders and implications for the employees who work for them. Human Resource Development Review, 14, 64-90. doi: 10.1177/1534484314552437 Musical LinksFolk Music: Lion Named Roar: & Sons: King and Country: Coltrane: Stewart: G:
Jim Guszcza is the chief data scientist at Deloitte Analytics. His title paints a picture that he’s a total numbers geek. And that would be a fair, but single-dimensional assessment. What it doesn’t speak to is Jim’s passion for behavioral science and, more importantly, the collaboration of data science and behavioral science.He makes a case for the application of behavioral science simply with this analogy: if we need help to see, we get eyeglasses. In so doing, we are using science and technology to help correct our faulty vision. But when it comes to correcting for our biases, we don’t turn to science and technology and that might improve our decision making. But we could. That’s where the collaboration between data science (or Big Data) and behavioral science come together: applying science and technology to decision making. And THAT was fascinating. In our discussion about music, we talked about Jim’s equal interest in a Dvorak string quartet as much as he is the in the soundtrack to “Wonder Boys” or a great jazz piano performance. He shared he has a penchant for small venues and small bands.He then shared some tips about how to apply behavioral science to your job and your life. He focused on reading books and listening to podcasts as ways to become more educated on the topic and to help you apply behavioral science principles.NOTE: Behavioral Grooves is celebrating our 100th episode in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2019 with authors Annie Duke and Jeff Kreisler. Our sponsors for the event include PeopleScience and Podbean and we want to thank them for helping us make this possible. If you’re unable to join us in person, we’ll be live streaming the event and we hope you’ll log in there! LinksJim Guszcza:“Moneyball” Michael Lewis:“Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction” Paul Miele: Thaler: Sunstein: Kahneman: syndrome: Rationality: Self-Control: Fox, UCLA: Action Gap: Green, Deloitte: Neil: Cialdini, ASU:“The Design of Everyday Things” Don Norman: Malone, MIT:“Rockonomics” Alan Krueger:“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” Shoshana Zuboff:“Deep Medicine” Eric Topol: Human Centered AI: Mellon Social & Decision Sciences: Scientist Ethical Checklist: “Quiet” Susan Cain:“Thinking in Bets” Annie Duke: Simon: Kurt Nelson: @motivationguruTim Houlihan: @thoulihan100th Episode Event at Meetup: Episode Event at Eventbrite: Grooves: www.behavioralgrooves.comPeopleScience:  Musical LinksBob Dylan: Morrison: Cohen: MacDonald: Schoenberg: Hall: String Quartet: String Quartet: Iyer: Boys: & Julia Stone: Cash: and the Bunnymen: Cure:
Gina Merchant, PhD is a behavioral scientist who wound her way through academia and into the corporate world for the purpose of improving the health of communities, not just individuals. Her work examines how online and offline social networks influence our health behaviors and healthcare decision-making.Gina shared her insights through research she’s been conducting with promotores, the women who govern how information flows through Hispanic communities in Southern California. The research explores how the work these women do impacts the health and wellbeing of their communities.Our discussion also included Gina’s thoughts on misinformation, especially with respect to the myths that people have come to believe about vaccinations. This topic came to light as a source of passion in her work. We also talked about the role that a behavioral scientist can play in a corporate setting. She shared how business leaders can experience positive results by including a behavioral scientist in communication and design discussions.  We also want to remind everyone that we’re celebrating our 100th episode in Philadelphia. It’s an evening event and it will be live streamed. If you’re interested in attending or listening live, check out the Behavioral Grooves website at Merchant: Illusion Effect: Framework:“Willful Blindness,” by Margaret Heffernan: Theory: Project, by Heidi Larson: Filter Bubble: Looking Glass Self: Starbird: Canyon:,_California Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru Tim Houlihan: @THoulihanCheck out the Behavioral Grooves website: MusicDMX:’ Kim: Smalls: Johnson: Called Quest: Harper: Schultz, “Firetruck,”: Lake, by Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky: Mob: 
We are re-sharing our original September 2018 discussion with Annie Duke to announce the Behavioral Grooves 100th Episode on the evening of October 17, 2019 in the Historic Hamilton Auditorium at the Pennsylvania Academy for Performing Arts. It's a live event and we invite you to join us to hear Annie, Lila Gleitman and other guests discuss the application of behavioral sciences. Seating is very limited for this intimate engagement and we hope to see you there! Links below.... . .  Annie Duke’s latest book, Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, is a masterful mash-up of her life as a researcher, poker player and charitable organization founder. In it, she explores new ideas on how to make better decisions.  Our interview with her expanded beyond the book and we talked extensively about probabilistic thinking and having people hold us accountable for our decision making. As expected, our interview covered an eclectic mix of behavioral biases, sociology, language development and, of without fail, music.  We used the movie The Matrix and the blue pill/red pill metaphor for looking at the world as accurate vs. inaccurate, rather than right or wrong. We discussed how tribes can offer us distinctiveness and belongingness but also confine us with the tribe’s sometimes negative influences. We also examined learning pods and how they can be used to keep our decisions more in line with reality.  If you like this episode, please forward it on to a friend or colleague and help Kurt win his bet with Tim for who pays the donation to How I Decide. You can find more information on or donate to this wonderful non-profit at  LinksAnna Dreber: Tetlock: Haidt: Gleitman: Syntactic Bootstrapping: White: Nelson: Richman: Chilton: Femmes: Nelson: Kurt@lantergroup.comTim Houlihan: Behavioral Grooves 100th Episode Meetup: 
Groovers, a couple of announcements for you:1. Kurt and I are hosting a meetup immediately after Customer Focus North in Minneapolis on September 19, 2019: Rodd Wagner will be speaking! Make sure you use this code to get 10% Off your registration to Customer Focus North: BEHAVIORAL2.  We're celebrating our 100th Episode and want you to join us in Philadelphia at the live event. Annie Duke will be onstage for our discussion! The link for the 100th Episode Meetup in Philadelphia on October 17, 2019:
Christian Hunt is the founder of Human Risk, a Behavioral Science Consulting and Training firm specializing in the fields of Risk, Compliance, Conduct & Culture. Before this, he was the head of Behavioral Science at UBS and before that, Chief Operating Officer of the Prudential Regulation Authority, a subsidiary of the Bank of England responsible for regulating Financial Services.Christian shared his 5 principles of human risk – myths that humans cling to that don’t help us do what we ought to be doing. They are all founded on the notion that very few people are doing things they shouldn’t be doing – and yet most of the rules in corporate culture are created to prevent, rather than uplift. And Christian’s biggest beef is that many, many people are NOT doing the things they SHOULD be doing – again, in part because of context and culture.We encountered some internet gremlins that mucked up the portion of our discussion with Christian that was about music. Regrettably, we are unable to bring you Christian’s Top 10 Behavioral Science Hits but we promise to return to it in the future. In our grooving session, we discuss the implications of the mental algorithms and what we can do about them. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Christian Hunt. LinksChristian Hunt: Risk: Davidson: Motorcycle: Enfield:“Predictably Irrational,” by Dan Ariely: Kafka: Kahneman: Experiment: of Thrones: (TV Show): Ibsen: Maugham: Lewis: Emigration: Shakespeare:“The Culture of Responsibility” Netflix:“Shawshank Redemption,” by Stephen King: Fuller: Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru Tim Houlihan: @THoulihanCheck out the Behavioral Grooves website:
Brian Ahearn is Behavioral Grooves’ first repeat guest. (He was first featured in Episode 39: The Heart of Reciprocity.) We recently reconnected with him to discuss his new book, Influence PEOPLE. The book explores the science behind the influence process – what drives people to take the actions you want them to take, without manipulation or trickery. The book is about changing people's behavior. Positive thoughts, and even agreement from others, only go so far – and seldom lead to a change in behavior. Our conversation with Brian focused on specific ways to make that happen.Brian’s book is not intended as an academic replay of all the aspects of the science of persuasion. While the science is foundational, the book focuses on the practical aspects of application with lots of great examples and case studies, many of them from Brian’s personal experiences. We recommend you check it out if you’re uninterested in the science but care deeply for the “how-to” part of the story.We also returned to music and revisited Brian’s eclectic playlists. We focused on his predilection to combine Frank Sinatra and Coldplay into a single “clean” playlist that he uses in client workshops and presentations.In our grooving session, we discussed whether the tool can be held accountable or is it only the user of the tool? And are you familiar with the Wilhelm Scream? Listen in to find out.For those of you listening before October 2019, Kurt and Tim will be celebrating our podcast’s 100th episode in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of Performing Arts on October 17th. Our lead guest will be Annie Duke. LinksBrian Ahearn: PEOPLE: Kahneman: Cialdini: Ariely: Langer study: Store: Kerrison: 100th Episode Meetup in Philadelphia on October 17, 2019: Nelson: @motivationguru Tim Houlihan: @THoulihanCheck out the Behavioral Grooves website: ArtistsHamilton:, Bohemian Rhapsody: Sinatra: Coldplay: Cash:
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