Choiceology with Katy Milkman

Choiceology with Katy Milkman

Can we learn to make smarter choices? Listen in as host Katy Milkman--behavioral scientist, Wharton professor, and author of How to Change--shares stories of high-stakes decisions and what research reveals they can teach us. Choiceology, an original podcast from Charles Schwab, explores the lessons of behavioral economics to help you improve your judgment and change for good. Season 1 of Choiceology was hosted by Dan Heath, bestselling author of Made to Stick and Switch. Podcasts are for informational purposes only. This channel is not monitored by Charles Schwab. Please visit for contact options. (0321-1S88)


December 18, 2023 29 mins

Curious what it would be like to walk in someone else's (work) shoes? Join New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath as he explores the world of work, one profession at a time, and interviews people who love what they do. What does a couples therapist think when a friend asks for relationship advice? What happens if a welder fails to wear safety glasses? What can get a stadium beer vendor fired? If you've ever met someone whose w...

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Filling out an overly complicated form or waiting on hold for hours to speak with a customer service rep is a frustrating experience. And sometimes it seems like the process itself is designed to be difficult.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how friction––time, distance, complexity, or anything that gets in the way of your goals—can contribute to what Nobel Prize–winning economist Richard Thaler calls "s...

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A train was speeding along the tracks in 19th-century England when a passenger suddenly started smashing windows and waving a pistol in the air. People believed his actions were caused by what was, at the time, a new and unfamiliar form of transportation. Doctors posited the rattling motion and noise of trains could cause passengers to act erratically, creating the short-lived but popular myth of "railway madness."

In this episode o...

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It’s halftime at a basketball game. A kid nervously steps onto center court. If he can score a basket from center court, he’ll take home the prize money. He tells the announcer that he plays on his elementary school team and that he has been practicing for this moment. The crowd holds their breath as the ball sails through the air, hits the backboard … and goes in. The stadium erupts in excitement. Could he be the next Michael Jord...

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Why do ocean waves move the way they do? How does a toaster work? How might ink flow through a ballpoint pen without the help of gravity? You may know the answer to these questions, but explaining them in detail could reveal an unexpected truth.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at why people think they understand things better than they actually do.

The idea started at the dinner table. One of A.J. Jacobs’ ki...

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What is the difference between buying groceries for the whole week versus grabbing something to eat on the way home each day? Grouping choices together so that you make a bunch of selections all at once can seem daunting, but it can actually help you reach your goals faster.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how taking a bird's eye view on a series of selections can help create better results overall.

Most ...

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Scientifically sound, randomized experiments can be expensive and difficult to run. But there’s an alternative: It turns out that certain real-life situations can also generate useful scientific data. The trick is finding them.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how events outside of our control can create opportunities for so-called natural or accidental experiments.


The organizers of a heroic airlift tran...

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There are moments in life where it seems as though everything is riding on one important decision. If only we had a crystal ball to see the future, we could make those decisions with greater confidence. Fortune-telling aside, there are actually methods to improve our predictions—and our decisions.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at what makes some people “superforecasters.” 

In 2010, the United States govern...

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If you ran a survey at a science fiction convention to find out which movies were most popular with the general public, chances are good that the results would lean heavily towards sci-fi films. This skewing of data is plain to see in this context, but in many others it’s less obvious and potentially more pernicious.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a bias that can distort information that we gather from ...

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On this special bonus episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we highlight Ripple Effect, a new podcast from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Hosted by Dan Loney, Ripple Effect showcases research by Wharton faculty and shares what their insights mean for you.

As part of a series on women and work, this episode of Ripple Effect features Choiceology host and Wharton professor Katy Milkman. After years of conduct...

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We all make decisions involving risk. Decisions like trying out for your school’s chess team, speaking up when you don’t agree with your boss, or going down a double-black-diamond run at the end of a long day of skiing. So how do we determine which risks are worth taking and which ones are too … risky?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at gender differences around confidence and uncertainty, and how we can al...

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Finding a new favorite celebrity feels a little bit like falling in love. Perhaps you find their smile endearing, or you relate to their sense of humor. Maybe you see things in your everyday routine that remind you of them. You feel like you know them so well. But whether it’s a star athlete or a Hollywood type, the reality is they likely have no idea who you are. 

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore how we ...

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Mullets. Skinny jeans. Crocs. Many of us can recall trends that we've jumped on, only to see those trends become passé soon after. But the fear of missing out can snowball into heavier consequences.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how speculation and rapidly growing trends, however niche, can cloud people's judgment. 

A tight knit group of friends in Chicago start buying stuffed animals from a little-know...

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When you fail to reach a challenging goal, say, saving a certain amount of money each month or getting to the gym a certain number of times a week, it can be tempting to just give up on the plan entirely. But new research shows that building some flexibility into that plan can actually improve your chances of success.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how mulligans, skip days, cheat meals, and get-out-of-j...

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It seems like every other week there's a news report about how coffee will help you live longer or will shorten your life. There are similar reports about vitamins and water consumption and any number of other health-related studies. So why do we see so much conflicting information around scientific research in the media? 

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, a look at the slippery problem of separating correlation from...

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You've probably caught yourself indulging after a workout or a game or a stretch of healthy eating. Maybe it was a pint or two after a soccer game or an extra piece of cheesecake after a vigorous hike. These indulgences are easier to justify after a healthy activity. Ironically, though, these indulgences can undo some of your hard work. So why do we tend to behave this way? 

In this episode of Choiceology withKaty Milkman, a look at...

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If you’ve ever lost a job, or been through a breakup, or failed an exam, you’ll know that the aftermath can be painful and disorienting. But for some percentage of those who experience these disappointing outcomes, unforeseen opportunities will arise.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the occasional upside of being forced to quit a career, or a relationship, or even a favorite route to work.

Kassia St. Clai...

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When we feel angry or excited, or happy or sad, the reasons for those emotions may seem obvious. Angry? It was that argument with a spouse. Excited? It was that promotion at work. Happy? Must've been that delicious meal. Sad? It was that tearjerker film, for sure. But it turns out that we often mistake the root causes of our feelings and other experiences.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a family of bias...

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“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A quintessentially American phrase from the Declaration of Independence. That “pursuit of happiness” takes many forms, but it turns out that some approaches are more likely to be successful, according to science. 

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a way to frame how you spend your time and money that may help you lead a happier life.

Joshua Fields Millburn was ...

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Humans can easily distinguish between a zero-chance event (e.g., the Washington Nationals winning the World Series in 2022) and a sure thing (e.g., the sun coming up tomorrow). But in between those two clear outcomes, it turns out that we’re not great at estimating odds.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, a bias that affects the way we predict the likelihood of rare events.

Katia Jordan had all the makings of a tennis ...

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