Weekly Grooves
Using Diversity to Bring a New Lens to Old Problems

Using Diversity to Bring a New Lens to Old Problems

June 27, 2020

This week, Tim found an article published by the American Economic Association with Harvard professor Mario Small, PhD called “Rethinking racial discrimination: how sociology can help economics diversify its perspective.”

The article explores how – with only 3% of economists identifying as black in a recent AEA survey – economists are lacking a diverse perspective.  Dr. Small argues this inhibits creativity and innovation in the field of economics and is particularly true as it relates to how racial discrimination is studied in economics.

He argues that economics could learn from sociology in the way the field embraces different perspectives and uses each to paint a more accurate and holistic understanding of issues. He points out that there are currently only two main perspectives on discrimination in economics – “taste-based and statistical-discrimination,” neither of which reaches the underlying issues. 

In this episode, Kurt and Tim explore the article with a slightly different lens. We have seen how diversity of race and gender and age and political affiliation can lead to more engaging discussions, improved creativity, more robust innovation, and hence better outcomes, in science, business, and our personal lives.

We hope you enjoy our discussion and please share it with a friend if you found it helpful.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



Rethinking racial discrimination: https://www.aeaweb.org/research/economics-racial-discrimination-mario-small

HBR: Does Diversity Actually Increase Creativity?: https://hbr.org/2017/06/does-diversity-actually-increase-creativity

Ethnic Diversity and Creativity in Small Groups: McLeod, Lobel & Cox: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1046496496272003

Hidden Brain: Creative Differences: https://www.npr.org/2019/01/24/687707404/creative-differences-the-benefits-of-reaching-out-to-people-unlike-ourselves

Implicit Bias Review: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/implicit-bias-training/resources/2017-implicit-bias-review.pdf

Diversity and black leadership in corporate America: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/success/diversity-and-black-leadership-in-corporate-america/index.html

Kimberle Crenshaw, JD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimberl%C3%A9_Williams_Crenshaw

April Seifert, PhD in Episode 24: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/april-seifert-on-digital-exhaust-analysis-and-gender-stereotyping/

Race and Intelligence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence

April Seifert, PhD – Episode 24 of Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/april-seifert-on-digital-exhaust-analysis-and-gender-stereotyping/

GI Joe Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GimHHAID_P0


If You Can Work from Anywhere, Where Will You Live?

If You Can Work from Anywhere, Where Will You Live?

June 19, 2020

We saw an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?” and it got us thinking. Millions of white-collar workers have been displaced from their offices and are being told they are on indefinite work-from-home status. And many of those workers are opting to leave the big cities where the virus has been most aggressive.

In addition to the temporary exodus to more rural settings, some people are leaving big cities to find permanent solace in the countryside.

This got us thinking about how humans are predictably irrational about decisions about their futures. The biases about future happiness go hand in hand with changing where you live.

The article that got us thinking about this was written by Rachel Feintzeig and Ben Eisen. Together, they do a great job of assembling data on the movement during the heart of the crisis and notes that even with a major recession hitting the global economy, many people feel the need to move.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



“When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?” from the Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2020: https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-workers-can-live-anywhere-many-ask-why-do-i-live-here-11592386201

“Is It Time to Let Employees Work from Anywhere?” by Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury , Barbara Z. Larson and Cirrus Foroughi, August 14, 2019 in HBR: https://hbr.org/2019/08/is-it-time-to-let-employees-work-from-anywhere

Remote Work Statistics: Shifting Norms and Expectations from February 2020: https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/remote-work-statistics/#:~:text=Remote%20Work%20Is%20Increasing&text=Over%20the%20last%20five%20years,or%203.4%25%20of%20the%20population.

“U.S. Workers Discovering Affinity for Remote Work,” Gallup Polls, April 3, 2020: https://news.gallup.com/poll/306695/workers-discovering-affinity-remote-work.aspx

Schkade, D. A., & Kahneman, D. (1998). Does Living in California Make People Happy? A Focusing Illusion in Judgments of Life Satisfaction. Psychological Science, 9(5), 340–346. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00066

“The evolution of decision and experienced utilities” by Robson and Samuelson, Theoretical Economics, September 2011: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.3982/TE800

Dan Buettner: On Quality of Life, “Thrive”: https://www.wbur.org/npr/131571885/how-to-thrive-dan-buettner-s-secrets-of-happiness

Dan Gilbert: On Predicting Future Happiness. https://positivepsychology.com/daniel-gilbert-research/#:~:text=Daniel%20Gilbert%20completed%20his%20Ph,emotional%20state%20in%20the%20future.

George Loewenstein, Ted O’Donoghue & Matthew Rabin on Projection Bias: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/projectionbias.pdf



How Riot Art Creates Hope

How Riot Art Creates Hope

June 12, 2020

We were pleased when we saw an article this week in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Alicia Eler titled, “George Floyd Murals, Graffiti on Boarded-Up Twin Cities Businesses Spread a Message of Pain ⁠— and Hope.”  The author states, “In the wake of last week’s riots, hundreds of artists around the city are transforming boarded-up windows with messages of remembrance, hope, demands for justice, healing community and pride for minority-owned businesses.”

We wanted to explore this idea of graffiti art in situations like the one we’re in right now – not only as a way of expressing emotions but of creating something more meaningful and lasting. And in so doing, we wanted to look at the underlying psychological principles behind how art in public spaces affects us.



Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Alicia Eler: https://www.startribune.com/george-floyd-murals-graffiti-on-boarded-up-twin-cities-businesses-spread-a-message-of-pain-hope/571102672/

Healing Invisible Wounds: Art Therapy and PSTD: https://www.healthline.com/health/art-therapy-for-ptsd#1

Graffiti Psychology: Why Vandals Strike: https://www.cleanlink.com/cp/article/Graffiti-Psychology-Why-Vandals-Strike--1131

Tattooing Buildings: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychiatric-disorder/201506/tattooing-buidings

Ogilvy “Babies in the Borough” Project: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19398580

Video of Babies in the Borough: https://www.local.gov.uk/babies-borough-using-behavioural-insights-reduce-anti-social-behaviour

Peyton Scott Russell “Sprayfinger”: http://sprayfinger.com/?author=1


Reflecting on Protests Sparked by the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Reflecting on Protests Sparked by the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

June 5, 2020

On May 25, 2020, a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by holding him down with a knee on his neck for over 8 minutes. This was done while three other officers either helped in holding down Mr. Floyd down or stood by watching. 

Mr. Floyd’s death is an unimaginable horror as it was not the result of a split-second or hair-trigger decision, but a callous, calculated effort that lasted more than 8 minutes.  

This killing kicked off a week of protests which grew darker as the nights went on.  As many as 81 buildings in Minneapolis have been burned, with 25 of them completely destroyed, and 270 businesses have been vandalized since Mr. Floyd’s death.

This hits home for Tim and Kurt. Tim lives only a few miles from the epicenter but has had people racing down his street, as they were deterred from the closed freeways by roadblocks – some of them threatening his neighbors with harm.  Kurt lives only blocks away from where some of the protests occurred and could smell the smoke and tear gas in the air, hear the chants of protesters, and see the police and national guard units patrolling up and down his street in the middle of the night as they stood watch to protect the neighborhood. The bank and post office that were burned down is where Kurt did his banking and sent his mail from. 

The loss of property in no way compares to the loss of human life – that is, Mr. Floyd’s life – and in no way compares to the hundreds of years of black suppression. These are terrible tragedies on many levels.

We’ve decided to talk about this on this podcast because it is personal for us – we have gone through a range of emotions and we thought that many of you might have been going through the same.  There have been similar incidents of outrage and protests in the past – Eric Garner and Michael Brown are just two that come to mind – but this one seems different.  Maybe it’s different because we live here and it’s so close…but maybe it’s different because it was the last straw that finally tipped the scales…let’s hope so.



Tally of Buildings Damaged in Minneapolis: https://www.startribune.com/these-minneapolis-st-paul-buildings-are-damaged-looted-after-george-floyd-protests/569930671/ 

Kareem Abdul Jabar – People Pushed to the Edge: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

“Psychological Research Explains Why People Protest” Forbes, May 20, 2020. By Nicole Fisher: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2020/05/29/the-psychology-of-protests-reveals-why-americans-are-ready-for-action/#334d1f3bbbb6

White guy with AR-15 vs. Black guy with AR-15 video: https://www.facebook.com/KeithKuder/videos/866107570115697

Reopening Your Business with an Emotional Bootcamp

Reopening Your Business with an Emotional Bootcamp

May 29, 2020

Joseph Grenny penned an article on May 20th in HBR.com called “5 Tips for Safely Reopening Your Office.” It tapped into something we have been thinking about recently: What can be done to help people get back to work…safely?

Grenny’s work adds to a growing library of articles about how companies can reopen by focusing on structural and process components. Many articles speak to the importance of taking people’s temperatures before they enter the building, creating physical distancing cues or structural changes in the office, protocols for what happens if someone does come down with COVID-19, and others. They are all important, but they are not the whole story.

We haven’t seen much of a behavioral science approach to how employees and customers feel about coming back to work. 

This episode considers the emotional issues of returning to work. As our friend, Anurag Vaish at FinalMile says, “Risk is a feeling, not a number.”

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



"5 tips for safely reopening your office space": https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-tips-for-safely-reopening-your-office

A leaders toolkit for reopening: https://sites.google.com/view/reopening-toolkit/home

Emotional Intelligence: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-intelligence


Suggestions for How To Deal with Quarantine Fatigue

Suggestions for How To Deal with Quarantine Fatigue

May 22, 2020

This week, we saw an op-ed piece in Elemental Medium called, “Quarantine Fatigue is overtaking us. We could have done better.”  It was written by Gabe Zichermann and he outlined a few of the human hardships that have manifested themselves in quarantine. The fatigue factor that accompanies them is real and worthy of exploration. However, thought the author went farther and offered a bit of controversial advice – if we get a do-over – on how we should have handled it. 

Zichermann lays out three contributors to fatigue and makes some recommendations for what should have happened, or as he calls it, a “do-over.”  The three areas are 1) human contact, 2) shame and stigma, and 3) boredom and restlessness. 

Kurt and Tim dive into the piece to discuss the behavioral science behind public shaming, our need for human contact, and how to stimulate creativity through boredom.



Elemental Medium:  “Quarantine Fatigue is overtaking us.  We could have done better.”: 


Forbidden Fruit https://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?id=335


Losing Your Job Might Cause You to Save More

Losing Your Job Might Cause You to Save More

May 15, 2020

This week, Matt Egan in CNN Business wrote a piece called “Americans create new economic threat with their own savings.” In it, he wrote that credit card debt is declining as American’s are spending less AND are paying down their balances.

This information piled on top of a conversation we had on our other podcast, Behavioral Grooves, with Mariel Beasley, the Director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University. She shared current research that lower-to-middle income Americans are saving MORE during the pandemic.

On one hand, that’s totally rational because we don’t know how long the crisis is going to last and we need to save for what will sure to be additional expenses. On the other hand, increasing your savings when you don’t have a job doesn’t make sense.

In this Weekly Grooves, we discuss some of the research literature on scarcity, fear, and the common mistake made by gamblers to place risky bets when their winnings are down. We also discuss the possibility of anticipated regret as a possible explanation for savings behaviors.

We hope you enjoy it and that you’ll share this episode with a friend.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



Egan, Matt, “Americans create new economic threat with their own savings” CNN, May 12, 2020: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/12/investing/jobs-coronavirus-consumer-spending-debt/index.html

Carrns, Ann, “How to Build an Emergency Fund in the Middle of an Emergency,” The New York Times, March 20, 2020: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/your-money/coronavirus-emergency-fund.html “Each extra dollar saved” reduces the likelihood of having to skip bill payments, said Mariel Beasley, a co-founder of Common Cents Lab, a financial research group at Duke University.

Kahneman, Daniel, & Tversky, Amos, Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47, 263–291, 1979: https://www.uzh.ch/cmsssl/suz/dam/jcr:00000000-64a0-5b1c-0000-00003b7ec704/10.05-kahneman-tversky-79.pdf

Loudenback, Tanza, “The pandemic spurred Americans to finally start saving money, but it's unclear how long the new habit will last,” Business Insider, May 14, 2020:  https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/us-savings-accounts-increase-during-pandemic-emergency-funds-2020-5

Shafir, Eldar, “The Psychology of Scarcity,” American Psychological Association, February 2014:  https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/scarcity

Weber, Bethany & Chapman, Gretchen, “Playing for peanuts: Why is risk-seeking more common for low-stakes gambles?” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Making, 2003: https://tinyurl.com/y884upe7

“Covid-19 Crisis: Mariel Beasley on Increasing Short Term Savings During the Crisis,” Behavioral Grooves, May 13, 2020, episode 146: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/covid-19-crisis-mariel-beasley-on-increasing-short-term-savings-during-the-crisis/

Unemployment Rates in the United States from 1929 to 2019: https://www.thebalance.com/unemployment-rate-by-year-3305506

Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.com/

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @whatmotivates

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Communicating Through a Pandemic

Communicating Through a Pandemic

May 8, 2020

Charles Duhigg, one of our favorite authors on habits, wrote an article for The New Yorker called, “Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead, New York’s Did Not.” The article explores how the two cities differed in their response and how the results were tragically different. While Dughigg covers a lot of ground, and the article is fascinating, we want to explore a couple of key concepts out if it as it relates to communication.

In the article, there is a reference to the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control) field manual on managing a crisis. In it, a whole chapter is dedicated to communication and we thought the behavioral implications were worth discussing.



Duhigg, C., “Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not,” New Yorker, May 4, 2020.  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/04/seattles-leaders-let-scientists-take-the-lead-new-yorks-did-not

The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual https://www.cdc.gov/eis/field-epi-manual/chapters.html

Bicchieri, C., & Dimant, E., “Nudging with care: the risks and benefits of social information,” Public Choice (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-019-00684-6   

Kassim, S., The “Messenger Effect” in Persuasion, DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199778188.003.0053 https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199778188.001.0001/acprof-9780199778188-chapter-53


Thanks For No Memories

Thanks For No Memories

April 25, 2020

Our inspiration this week comes from an article written by Shayla Love for Vice titled, “You’ll probably forget what it was like to live through a pandemic.” We thought it would make a great jumping-off point for how we will remember this time as well as a discussion on memory in general. 

We explore how memories get shaped during historically significant times and how vividness and emotion play into those memories. But, as Shayla notes, we don’t remember things all that accurately.

She points out that our specific memory of this time, even with all it’s heightened emotions and significance, will become, as she says, “a blur.”  

She goes on to say, “Those on the frontlines, like healthcare workers, will remember it differently. They'll witness the toll on human life firsthand and emotions like grief, fear, and anxiety will heighten their memories….[but] For those whose lives remain unscathed, who have the privilege of waiting out the weeks without much daily variety, this stretched out "historical event" isn't conducive to creating sharp, defined memories. Despite having conscious awareness of each moment now, a lot of it will slip away.”

We hope you enjoy this episode of Weekly Grooves.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



“You’ll probably forget what it was like to live through a pandemic.” By Shayla Love: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dmxvn/what-will-we-remember-from-the-coronavirus-covid19-pandemic

You have no idea what happened (New Yorker): https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/idea-happened-memory-recollection

A new false memory study suggest people can’t tell whats real:  https://gizmodo.com/a-new-false-memory-study-suggests-people-cant-tell-what-1842751404

How our brains make memories: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-our-brains-make-memories-14466850/

Did That Really Happen? How Our Memories Betray Us: https://www.npr.org/2019/12/16/788422090/did-that-really-happen-how-our-memories-betray-us


Tips for Maintaining Social Relationships in During COVID-19

Tips for Maintaining Social Relationships in During COVID-19

April 18, 2020

This week, we saw an article in NewScientist titled, “Psychology tips for maintaining social relationships during the lockdown.”  For those of you who haven’t seen it, we thought it would be valuable to review that and other tips on staying sane during a shelter-in-place order.

In this episode, Kurt and Tim look at hints and tips to stay more socially connected while needing to be physically distant.

The article that got us excited about this topic was written by Robin Dunbar, PhD, a British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and an expert in social bonding. Dr. Dunbar created a concept called the “Dunbar Number,” which explores the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships – relationships in which we know who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.


Psychology tips for maintaining social relationships during lockdown: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2240487-psychology-tips-for-maintaining-social-relationships-during-lockdown/?utm_source=NSDAY&utm_campaign=adbf6d03c7-NSDAY_150420&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1254aaab7a-adbf6d03c7-373930907

Dunbar Number – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

Harlow’s monkey Experiment: https://www.psychologynoteshq.com/harlows-monkey-experiment/

Endorphins: effects and how to increase levels: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320839#low-endorphins-and-health-conditions

Music reduces stress: https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/anxiety/songs-to-reduce-anxiety/

Debussy “Clair de Lune”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNcsUNKlAKw

Chopin “Mazurka”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn2tOKHjEMQ

Opioid release after high-intensity interval training in healthy human subjects: https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017148