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Mind & Culture

​The Story of the 2015 World Development Report: Mind, Society, and Behavior

Varun Gauri's picture

English settlers to the New World believed that the climate of Newfoundland would be moderate, New England would be warm, and Virginia would be like southern Spain. These beliefs were based on the seemingly common sense view that climate is much the same at any given latitude around the globe.
 
What is striking is that these views persisted despite mounting evidence to the contrary. As late as 1620, after 13 years in the settlement, residents in Jamestown, Virginia, were still trying to import olive trees and other tropical plants, perhaps inspired by Father Andrew White, who had assured them that it was “probable that the soil will prove to be adapted to all the fruits of Italy, figs, pomegranates, oranges, olives, etc.” Eventually, the English settlers did adjust their mental models about North American climate. The accumulation of scientific data, combined with personal experience, was undeniable. But the adjustment was slow and costly, in terms of both money and lives lost.

Why Economics Today Should Give Us Hope: An Outsider’s View

Dani Clark's picture

At 23, starting graduate school for international relations, the prospect of taking economics frightened me. Having just spent my college career as a history major that marched for peace probably had something to do with it. There was also that time in 4th grade when I got a D in math, but we won’t go there.

Anyway, it was a very nice surprise when I found that the math and logic of economics made sense to me. I was proud of myself for “getting it.” And of course, for starting my own subscription to the Financial Times. Ah, the conspicuous consumption patterns of a newly-minted student of economics.

Changing Mindsets, Empowering People

LTD Editors's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

When it comes to development, one size doesn’t fit all. It is about mindsets that can be transformed to see and do things differently. Taking a cue from this, The Hunger Project believes in empowering people to end their own hunger versus providing them with service delivery.  The Let’s Talk team caught up with John Coonrod, Executive Vice President, The Hunger Project, to know more about building self-reliant communities.

Aspiring to Understand Aspirations

Scott Abrahams's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

In Ethiopia, 3% of students will go to college.* But how many would you guess say that they want to?

The answer is 75%. That is how many of the 14 to 15 year-olds surveyed by the Young Lives team out of Oxford said they would like to complete a university degree. Of those kids, 9 in 10 expect to get there.

An outside view on the WDR 2015: Will adding a behavioral dimension to development mark a paradigm shift?

Chris Eldridge's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

Recently I was asked to give some feedback on the upcoming World Development Report 2015 (WDR 2015). WDR 2015 will be both important and timely. The following are some initial suggestions for the report.

Social norms and incentives: Homo economicus is dead, long live bounded rationality, social interdependence and culture!

Daniel Harris's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

All public policy is based on assumptions, whether implicit or explicit, about human behaviour. These assumptions, particularly those about what motivates people, are often incomplete. A better understanding of human motivation, one that draws on a range of disciplines, offers a chance to improve the effectiveness of development policy.

Mime your manners

Ryan Muldoon's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

When the former Mayor of Bogota, Antanas Mockus, began his first term in office, a major quality of life problem in the city was the awful traffic, aggravated by reckless driving and mass disobedience of traffic rules. The situation increased air pollution, reduced labor productivity, and created a sense that the city was dysfunctional. The traffic police were at the time notoriously corrupt:  drivers had merely to bribe the police to avoid more substantial penalties for traffic violations. Mockus fired all the traffic police and in their place hired approximately 400 mimes. The mimes were trained to mock people’s traffic violations and to demonstrate better behavior. The mime demonstrations succeeded - traffic improved greatly and traffic fatalities declined 50% in the center city where the mimes operated. Traffic police were later reinstated after retraining, but already traffic flowed more smoothly. (See here)