By Daniel Bennett, Choice Architect at Ogilvy Change
The 10th of June sees our annual festival of behavioural economics back again for the fourth Nudgestock by the sea. The festival has come on leaps and bounds over the years (as has the quality of the coffee) but my favourite speaker is still the first to grace the Nudgestock stage back in 2013.
Dr Laurie Santos from Yale University spoke about the behavioural economics of primates or Monkeynomics and how we may trace our decision-making biases back to our ancient ancestors.
Laurie immediately had the crowd enraptured by the content of her talk. There is something innately fascinating about learning about our primate cousins and how similar our behaviour can be. For example, following the financial crash Laurie explained how she became engrossed in finding out the evolutionary origins of the biases that lead to the crash.
Her lab at Yale had begun to teach capuchin monkeys how to use money. In this monkey market the experimenters could test how monkeys react given the same conditions as the financial crash. The idea being that gaining insight into how deeply rooted biases are in our human brain can give us guidance on how we may design for them.
These monkey markets uncovered a range of previously unknown facts such as how monkeys and humans share the same aversion to risk the poorer they become, how loss averse they are and how sensitive they are to a fair market. It also showed how innovative they could be, within approximately eight weeks the monkeys had created a system for prostitution within the enclosure.
Laurie’s talk was excellent and engaging –we still talk about it today. In fact we have only begun to scratch the surface of evolutionary insights when it comes to why humans behave the way they do.
So, to fix that, this year the theme will be the evolution of behavioural economics. The festival will feature some of the world’s leading thinkers in primatology and evolutionary psychology. Hosted in a Victorian seaside theatre, with six world-leading authorities and a surprise performance, this year’s festival promises to be a day not to be missed.
In terms of what to expect, those of us in the creative industries may be particularly keen to listen to primatologist Isabel Behncke. Whilst much is known about the behaviours of the big chest beating apes, we know comparatively very little about our other ancestors. Isabel is an expert in the behaviour of the lesser-known bonobos and has a lot to say about how creative organisations can benefit from being more like bonobos and less like the great apes.
Considering the fact bonobos resolve conflict and solve social issues with frequent and promiscuous sex, I trust you can't wait to hear her suggestions either!
But who are our other speakers, we hear you cry? Well cry no more:
- Robert Frank, a writer for the New York Times and best-selling author of books including The Darwin Economy, The Economic Naturalist and Luxury Fever.
- Tim Harford is an economist, journalist and broadcaster. He is the author of The Undercover Economist, a senior columnist at the Financial Times, and the presenter of Radio 4’s More or Less.
- Dave Trott is a creative director and the author of Creative Mischief; Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-thinking the Competition, and most recently, One Plus One Equals Three. Dave has created some of the most memorable advertising campaigns over the last 30 years and in 2004 was given the D&AD award for Life-time Achievement in Advertising.
- Molly Crockett is Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology, Fellow of Jesus College, and Distinguished Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, University of Oxford. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, BBC and Financial Times, and her TED talk Beware Neuro-bunk has over a million views.
- Tali Sharot received her Ph.D in Psychology and Neuroscience from New York University and has a B.A in Economics and Psychology. Her scholarly research focuses on how emotion, motivation and social factors influence our expectations, decisions and memories.
For all this and more, buy your ticket to this year’s Nudgestock festival now.