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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dan Ariely on 23andMe and the Burden of Knowledge

By Scott Berinato
Harvard Business Review Blog
Originally published December 9, 2013

News broke Friday that 23andMe, the provider of genetic testing services built around a $99 kit you can use at home, would cease providing health information to consumers while the product underwent a Food and Drug Administration approval process, because the FDA considers the test a medical device that requires regulatory review. While the FDA reviews the product, 23andMe will continue to provide customers ancestry data and raw data.

Coincidentally, right when the news was posted, I was speaking with celebrated behavioral economist Dan Ariely about 23andMe. Ariely saw an ad for the kit and his curiosity prompted him to take the test. When he got the results, he knew he wanted to direct a researcher’s lens on it, because “this was standard, classic, even an exaggerated case of information overload. I wanted to analyze it from the point of view of what we can do with this information, and what should we do. I also had the thought, maybe we could use it for our research on decision making.” So Ariely got kits for all of the researchers on his staff. He spoke to me about the results of that experiment, and how he hopes products like 23andMe could improve based on behavioral science.

The entire blog post is here.
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