The Bad with the Good: With Guests Uzma Khan & Gustav Källstrand

October 24, 2022
Why do some people use "good" behavior to justify "bad" behavior?

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After you listen

Saving money is one area where people too often favor current desires over future needs.

  • To learn more, check out the Financial Decoder podcast, hosted by Mark Riepe. Mark and his guests often discuss strategies to help you create and stick to a financial plan—one of the best tools to help you stay accountable to your future self.

You've probably caught yourself indulging after a workout or a game or a stretch of healthy eating. Maybe it was a pint or two after a soccer game or an extra piece of cheesecake after a vigorous hike. These indulgences are easier to justify after a healthy activity. Ironically, though, these indulgences can undo some of your hard work. So why do we tend to behave this way?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, a look at how we justify our decisions based on previous behavior.

Alfred Nobel was a very successful inventor and businessman. His invention of dynamite transformed industry and saved lives by reducing the use of dangerously unstable nitroglycerin. But his reputation suffered as he became associated with some of the negative uses of his creation.

Gustav Källstrand is the senior curator at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. He tells the story of how Alfred Nobel accidentally read his own obituary (spoiler: it was not a positive story) and the efforts Nobel undertook to rescue his reputation.

Next, Uzma Khan joins Katy to explain why people use "good" behavior to justify "bad" behavior, and vice versa. She discusses her research into this compensating behavior and how it impacts everything from health to consumer choice to charitable giving.

Uzma Khan is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Miami.

Finally, Katy explains how this phenomenon relates to what Nobel laureate Richard Thaler calls mental accounting, where we tend to place time and money (and in this case morality and self-control) into accounts, even though they are fungible resources.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

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