Barry Schwartz is a visiting professor at Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley, emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, and the author of The Paradox of Choice, Why We Work, and Practical Wisdom (with Kenneth Sharpe).
We are reluctant to tell people how to live their lives, except insofar as individual decisions affect the lives of others. We can learn a valuable lesson for the present moment from the examples of smoking and drunk driving.
The field mistakenly called “behavioral economics” (mistakenly because what it is is psychology applied to domains that are the normal province of economists) has taken the intellectual and political world by storm.
Many years ago, the very distinguished experimental psychologist, George Miller, in a presidential address to the American Psychological Association, admonished the academics in his audience to “give psychology away.”
When I wrote an article for The Atlantic about a year ago arguing for the importance of a Council of Psychological Advisors, I was motivated by frustration that policy makers fail to take advantage of the best that psychology has to offer when it comes to formulating and implementing public policy.