Obama and the Science of Change

In a Time magazine article that will be officially released on Monday, How Obama is Using the Science of Change, Michael Grunwald describes how the Obama campaign and now the Obama Administration is taking advantage of the principles of Behavioral Economics.  Obama used these discoveries to help himself get elected, and now elected, he plans to use them to help our citizens change.  Yes, Xam Cinborg, Obama is adept at getting the sheeple to act like better sheep – you’d better watch out – your guns are next.

At the end of the grueling campaign the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists, a secret advisory group to Obama, suggested that Obama repeat the line “A record turnout is expected”.  This strategy was chosen because a very powerful motivator for people is the suggestion that “everyone is doing it.”

As the Time article reports, “President Obama is still relying on behavioral science.  But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country.  Because when you know what makes people tick, it is a lot easier to help them change.”

Behavioral Economics is the next generation of Economics and replaces the Neoclassical Economic school championed by the likes of Alan Greenspan.  The Neoclassical school maintained that the economy works best when we get government out of the way and let self-interested rational actors (us) do our business.  A nice sounding bunch of platitudes, but there have been many  social psychology experiments which demonstrate how irrational we actors in reality are.  Behavioral Economics recognizes these irrationalities and takes them into account when encouraging positive change.

As an example of the above, research has shown that when women workers are given the opportunity to enrol in 401K plans about 36% act to take advantage of this chance.  Whereas if one has to opt out of automatic enrollment into a 401K plan, 86% of the women participated.  Making good decisions more difficult to avoid has its advantages.

Obama’s approach has some political risks.  His opponents have tried to paint him as a nanny state promoter and as a Big Brother socialist.  American’s don’t like the idea of being manipulated even if it is their best interests.  So, it is a legitimate question if Obama’s new way will have some undesired consequences for him politically.

As for myself, I applaud these efforts which look  to have a better chance of working than the exclusive use of  brain-dead rhetoric as practiced by Bush II.

Finally, I might add, yes,  Xam Cinborg (doesn’t that almost spell cyborg), you have much to fear.

See the entire article here.

3 Comments

Filed under Economics, Media, Obama, Political Reform, Psychology Ramblings..., Republicans, Research, The Economy, The Environment, Universal Healthcre

3 responses to “Obama and the Science of Change

  1. I’ve a client and friend who has been making an argument about the interaction of human behavior and economics as the same relates to severe economic downturns throughout the 20th (and now the early 21st) century. While I had not heard the term “Behavioral Economics” prior to reading the starter post, and he’s not used this term, I’m beginning to think that he’s on to something.

  2. It doesn’t matter whether we benefit or not, the native Republican Kansans are restless, they’ve got to find something big on this guy ’cause he isn’t sinking quickly enough to save them.

  3. You make me glad I just write poetry. lol
    As far as what Friord said, it’s the native Kansan republicans who need sunk. This states social system lives in the dark ages. Not only does this state still believe one can live on 441 dollars a month in assistance, and that’s legitimate assistance. We have a section 8 housing line two years long that they won’t even accept applications anymore. The congressmen here run this state like a Bush administration and have been more concerned with making state lisence plates en Español than dealing with the real issues.

    As far as Obama… I have visions of Blazing Saddles perhaps we should have elected Mel Brooks.