The field of behavioral science is relatively new, and, as far as jokes go, working on this list taught me that we have a ways to go. Chemistry and physics seem to be doing ok, but to put it bluntly, historically the disciplines that constitute the behavioral sciences haven’t done that well. This video pretty much sums it up. It’s pretty bleak as far as jokes go, particularly starting at 3:10. NPR recently gave it the old college try. I know, real doozies. Maybe even lowered your heart rate. And while a google search reveals that cartoons and memes seem to be on an upward trajectory, good old-fashioned jokes clearly aren’t up to snuff.
Despite those odds I chose not to settle. In the list below, I decided to help (read: I tried to help) the field forge ahead by writing new jokes, crowdsourcing originals and favorites from our readers, and selecting a few of our top picks from around the internet. I hope you enjoy them and employ them. Thanks to everyone who submitted and I know there’s more good jokes out there, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @behscientist. Our work has just begun.
Why do behavioral scientists have such bad teeth?
What do you call a behavioral scientist with two pet donkeys?
-Submitted by James Elfer
How do you know Santa Claus is a real person?
He suffers from present bias.
What do you ask Daniel Kahneman when he has to use the bathroom?
Is it a system 1 or a system 2?
What do you call a picture of Richard Thaler demonstrating the endowment effect?
A mug shot.
-Submitted by Dilip Soman
What do you call a mental shortcut that doesn’t work?
The ah, fucked heuristic.
Did you hear about the behavioral scientist who wanted to help people save for retirement?
No, because you were auto-enrolled.
What’s a behavioral scientist’s favorite chewing gum flavor?
What’s a behavioral scientist’s favorite beverage?
Now that Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize, he values it much more than he did before.
-Jonathan Ladd, submitted by Bernardo F. Nunes
You know, behavioral scientists really get on my nerves. They never take responsibility for anything and they are always talking about whose default it is.
Slow computers suffer from pervasive optimism bios.
-Submitted by Cameron Knott
The wisdom of crowds: stand up and be herd.
-Submitted by Cameron Knott
Behavioral Scientist 1: “Did you hear that the White House banned the terms “science-based” and “evidence-based” from certain government reports?
Behavioral Scientist 2: Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up.
Behavioral Scientist 1: Actually, now you can.
Dunning-Kruger effect who?
Good one, isn’t it?
Two behavioral scientists were discussing their field. One asked the other, “Did you hear about the replication crisis?”
“Yeah, I did,” the other replied. “It’s not a joke.”
New Behavioral Science Definitions:
Fundamental Cattribution Error: The tendency to overemphasize personality-based explanations for your cat’s behavior, while under emphasizing the role of situational influences on the same behavior—like you being single and living alone.
Information bias: The tendency to refer to factual information as “fake news.”
Tassel factors: The greater the number of tassels on your outfit the more likely you are to experience friction when trying to achieve your desired outcome. (Or was it less friction? Hmm.)
Gross mindset: The belief that, with the appropriate amount of effort, something can become grosser.
Hot Pocket fallacy/Hot Pocket phenomenon: The fallacious belief that after experiencing enjoyment by consuming one Hot Pocket you have a greater probability of experiencing further enjoyment by consuming additional Hot Pockets
Hippocampus: The place where hippopotamuses go to college.
Addictionary: When you can’t stop reciting words and their definitions.
Stereotype Thread: A discussion in an article’s comment section consisting entirely of predictable and cliche chatter.
-Submitted by Mitra Salasel
Time-saving bias: The tendency to do the absolute bare minimum because it saves time.
-Submitted by Max Nesterak
Sunk Cost Fallacy: Well, you already ate that Hot Pocket.
Some other originals and classics from the fields within behavioral science:
The other day I asked a behavioral scientist if he’d tell me a joke. He replied:
Nah sorry, not doing these any more. Last time I did I came up with a brilliant joke about cognitive dissonance but nobody laughed. Turns out everyone else is too dumb to understand my humor.
-Submitted by Dean Burnett
One dog says to another, “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?”
“No,” the other replies, “but it makes my mouth water.”
Why was Pavlov’s hair so soft?
Who is this Rorschach guy and why did he paint so many pictures of my parents fighting?
Did you hear they found anomalies in Gregor Mendel’s data?
Yeah, talk about pea-hacking.
Last week, my friend suffered a severe stroke leading to visual neglect on the left half of his visual field. He’s all right now.
-Submitted by Daniel Oppenheimer
Why was the neuroscience movie rated R?
Two brain cells at the water cooler:
Brain cell 1: Did you hear the news?
Brain cell 2: Yep. I knew Ron. Can’t believe he was fired.
Going cold turkey on cheese is one of the hardest things you can do that’s also a sandwich.
-Submitted by Jake Ford
A gross national product doesn’t make sense in today’s economy. America needs a more delicious national product.
-Submitted by Jake Ford
Why did chicken economicus cross the road?
To maximize utility.
-Submitted by Greg Rosalsky
Why did the child cross the road?
To get 2 marshmallows instead of 1, revealing great self-control and high potential for good life outcomes.
-Submitted by Katherine Milkman
Did you hear they’re designing a new car for economists?
It’s an MUV, a Maximize Utility Vehicle. But I guess an economist would tell you that theoretically everyone drives an MUV.
What do you call a sociologist who is “just okay” at their job?
A town’s community center was overrun with squirrels. They called in all the university faculty to try and solve the problem. The philosophers tried to reason with the squirrels but couldn’t convince them to leave. The veterinarians tried to catch the squirrels, but no luck either. Finally, the behavioral scientists tried to partner with the squirrels for a study, and the squirrels stopped replying to emails and left town.
-Submitted by Lindsay Juarez