Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Problems

Often, we assume that we can inspire people to change their behavior by convincing them that if they take certain actions or make certain choices, they will achieve the result they desire. But people don’t always act rationally. Why else would so many of us skip medications our doctor has prescribed?

Behavioral economics seeks to understand how we make decisions, and what motives and incentives influence decision-making. With support from RWJF, the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Leonard Davis Institute (CHIBE) at University of Pennsylvania is applying behavioral economics to health and health care to better understand how and why doctors and patients make the decisions they do.

Eight experiments testing a variety of motivators—from financial incentives to the way choices are presented—to encourage healthy behavior are currently underway. Read more.

Five experiments to test what can reduce the use of low-value services in health care—services that provide little or no benefit to patients and can even cause harm—will begin this fall.

Contact

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

David A. Asch
Co-Director

Kevin G. M. Volpp
Co-Director

Photo of Lori Melichar, director

Lori Melichar, director

Influencing Decisions

By understanding what drives decision-making in health we can better influence these decisions. Our grantees are shedding light on how to remove barriers to the provision of high value healthcare, and make it easier for individuals to improve their own health," says director Lori Melichar.

 

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Behavioral economics and the science of how we decide could help make America healthier.

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Published Research and Commentary

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This article examines why a person-centered focus is important for health incentives.

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