Originally published January 31, 2018
Here are two excerpts:
To increase the chance people will take these important pills, a team out of the University of Pennsylvania created a behavioral economic incentive. The intervention was multipronged. It included enrolling patients in lotteries, which gave them a chance to win money every day they took their pills. It encouraged patients to enlist a friend to help them stay on track taking their pills, a friend who would get notified every time they skipped their medications for a few days in a row.
But the intervention failed — it neither increased adherence to medications nor reduced hospitalizations for heart attacks. These results are shown in the figure below, which, despite appearances, shows two lines, representing the intervention group and the control group, respectively; the lines practically merge into one...
Sometimes behavioral economics is criticized for being over-hyped, for being touted as the answer to all our behavioral problems. I’ve been one of those critics. But my beef isn’t with behavioral economists — my research frequently draws upon insights from that field. My issue is with people who think of behavioral economics as some kind of magic wand we can wave over stubbornly harmful behavior. Changing people’s behavior is hard to do, especially without resorting to draconian measures.
We need to keep experimenting with ways to help people take care of their health.
The article is here.