A Spoonful of Sugar: With Guests Ayelet Fishbach, Dan Ariely, Lynne Gauthier & Nancy Strahl

May 25, 2020
Conventional wisdom is that you should just buckle down and do what's in your long-term best interest, right? It's a lot easier if you make it appealing in the short term, too.

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After you listen

Do you struggle with setting and keeping financial resolutions?

Do you struggle with setting and keeping financial resolutions?

"In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap, the job's a game!" So says Julie Andrews' character in the Disney film Mary Poppins before she launches into the famous musical number "A Spoonful of Sugar."

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the science behind the intuitive strategy of making difficult or boring things easier by adding that "element of fun." But while Mary Poppins was focused on making the tedious task of cleaning a room a bit more enjoyable, you’ll see that this approach isn’t limited to housework.

You'll hear Nancy Stahl's dramatic story of a life-threatening medical event. Her prognosis was grim, but thanks to grit, determination, and some pioneering work in gamifying rehabilitation by Professor Lynne Gauthier, Nancy made a remarkable recovery.

Lynne Gauthier is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and director of the Neurorecovery and Brain Imaging Laboratory.

Next, Dan Ariely recounts an incredibly difficult long-term treatment that he was able to endure and complete, thanks to a strategy known as temptation bundling (a term coined by Katy Milkman through her research into the phenomenon).

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and the author of several bestselling books, including Predictably Irrational.

Finally, Ayelet Fishbach joins Katy to discuss research into myriad ways that adding enjoyable elements to difficult or tedious tasks can improve outcomes in everything from math education to exercise to job satisfaction.

Ayelet Fishbach is the Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

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