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WDR 2015

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.

Inspiring change, one drop at a time!

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.

For one night, the Cirque du Soleil closes all its shows in Las Vegas. Instead, more than 100 artists come together to create one magnificent show in support of One Drop to give out a simple, yet very powerful message: water, for today and forever. For One Drop, awareness is as essential as economic development to drive change to make water accessible to all. The non-profit organization uses social arts to connect, communicate, and convince communities to adopt sound water management practices that ensure sustainability in the long run. The Let’s Talk team caught up with Jacques Rajotte, Chief Operating and Innovation Officer, and Danielle Valiquette, Chief International Programs Officer, One Drop, on their visit to the World Bank last week to know more about operationalizing social arts as an impactful tool for social transformation.

Early Feedback on Initial WDR 2015 Pre-Launch Engagement

Stephen Commins'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.

As a way of reaching out on the core messages for WDR2015, I asked for feedback on Linked In via two groups that I’m a member of -- the International Development Forum and Society for International Development groups. I received the following diverse comments, including from Tunisia, South Africa, Congo Brazzaville, France, Italy, and the US:
 

It was time! I am impressed that in development literature, classical and practical anthropology is not present. May be they should have listened to Drucker –more well-known than many anthropologists: “culture eats strategy at breakfast”.
 

I trust the [World] Bank will examine 'rationality' among the poor in the context of recent studies which demonstrate a relationship between the stress of day-to-day life, particularly decision-making, among the poor and the loss of cognitive capacity. See here for a popular discussion of the science. Rules of thumb may replace rationality in decision making by poor people as a means of coping with the stress of repeated daily decisions on actions requiring financial resources a poor person does not have. It may be quite challenging for professional economists to enter the mindset of the chronically poor.
 

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)

Do our minds play tricks on us?

Karla Hoff's picture

The following post is the first in a series exploring 'mind and culture: pathways to economic development,' the theme of the World Bank's upcoming World Development Report 2015.

Try to guess the answer to the question:

How many seven -letter words of which the sixth letter is “N” (_ _ _ _ _ N _) would you expect to find in four pages of a novel in English (about 2,000 words)? 

Now guess the answer to another question:

How many seven-letter words of which the last three letters are “ING” (_ _ _ _ ING) would you expect to find in the same four pages? 

If you are responding as most people have, then your estimate is several times greater for ING words than for _N_ words.  This violates logic. With some reflection, it’s easy to see that every ____ING  word is also an _____N_ word.  The mistake is famous and so is its explanation.    _ING words are a standard category, _N_ words are not, and standard categories shape how we think.  We confuse what it is easy to think of with what is frequent. This bias, called the availability bias, is just one of a multitude of biases that appear to be universal.

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