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Behavior Change for Good Fall Newsletter

In this newsletter, we’re featuring an exciting just-published paper by our team describing a simple, free nudge that increased volunteering at a terrific non-profit. We’re also excited to announce the return of our Behavioral Science Authors virtual event series beginning 9/23. 
Wishing you a wonderful fall,
Katy Milkman and Angela Duckworth
BCFG Co-Directors

A Potent Nudge to Boost Volunteering

Our new BCFG paper led by Wharton PhD student, Aneesh Rai, came out this week in the Journal of Applied Psychology. It presents the results of a massive field experiment implemented in partnership with Crisis Text Line (CTL)—a nonprofit organization that provides free crisis mental health counseling. We tested a small nudge to break down a big, 200 hour yearly volunteering goal that CTL presents to all crisis counselors.  In one experimental condition, messages went out to counselors encouraging them to volunteer 4 hours weekly to reach their 200 hour goal. In another, those messages encouraged counselors to volunteer 8 hours every two weeks to reach their yearly goal. Messages to a control group encouraged counselors to meet their 200 hour yearly goal without specifying a weekly or biweekly objective. By breaking a big goal down into smaller, bite-sized chunks (4 hours of volunteering per week or 8 hours every two weeks), our nudge produced an 8% increase in hours volunteered during our three month field experiment. Encouraging counselors to pursue a slightly more flexible volunteering goal (working 8 hours every two weeks) also produced somewhat more durable benefits.
Aneesh is on the management job market this year and we’re very proud that he started his journey at Wharton as a BCFG research assistant. Please join us in congratulating him on leading this terrific paper with BCFG team scientists Edward Chang, Marissa Sharif, and us (Angela and Katy)!

Announcing the Return of Our Popular Behavioral Science Authors Series

Our popular Behavioral Science Authors series will be back this fall thanks to a partnership with Psychgeist Media. This virtual series on occasional fall Fridays from 12 pm - 12:45 pm ET will feature interviews with an incredible line-up of BCFG Team Scientists about their new books (led by Psychgeist Media Founder Dave Nussbaum). We hope you’ll join us!

Register Here

Q&A with Cassie Mogilner Holmes, BCFG Team Scientist and Author of Happier Hour


Cassie Holmes is a Professor of Marketing and Behavioral Decision Making at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and author of Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most
1. What are the costs of being time poor and how can we become richer?
​So many of us feel time poor—like we have too much to do and not enough time to do it, which leaves us less healthy, less kind, less confident, and from the stress of it, less happy.

Yet, research also shows that to get more time, the solution isn’t to do less (at least, not of the things that matter). Rather, spending time in ways that expand you can make you feel time rich. Here are three ways to combat your time poverty:
#1 - Get moving – Exercise is an effective way to increase your self-efficacy (i.e., your confidence in being able to accomplish all that you set out to do). So, by carving out the time to exercise, you’ll feel you have all the time you need to accomplish what matters.
#2 - Practice acts of kindness – We’re all prone to hurried stinginess with our time. When rushing, we don’t slow down for others. Yet, our experiments show that because helping another makes you feel surprisingly accomplished, giving time can give you time—making you feel like you have more of it.
#3 - Experience awe – Studies show that feeling a sense of awe can expand not just your perspective, but your sense of time. So, go ahead and forge a deep sense of human connection, step outside into nature, or book tickets to that upcoming show.  
By following these tips, you’ll see that in reality, for you to be happier, you have all the time you need! 
2. How can we identify more worthwhile ways to spend our time?
How you choose to spend your time has a significant influence on your happiness. I suggest tracking your time for at least one week—writing down for each half-hour what you’re doing, and rating how that activity made you feel on a 10-point scale. There’s a helpful worksheet on my website and more detailed instructions in my book, Happier Hour.

Be as specific as you can. For instance, instead of “work,” I’d write, “working on book” or “faculty meeting.” Or instead of “family time,” I’d write “coffee date with Lita,” or “picking kids up from school.” 

With this rich source of individualized data, you can then precisely identify not only which activities are your happiest, but their common features. 

You may find (like me) that getting outside for a solo early-morning run or having a cup of coffee with one of your favorite people are your happiest moments. Or you may find (unlike me), that getting together with lots of energized people for a spin class or cocktails are what sparks energy for you. Your happiest activities are worth devoting your hours.
Congratulations to team scientist Emily Oster for being named one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2022!

Selected Popular Press Coverage of Work by BCFG Team Scientists

Hear From BCFG Team Scientists on These Podcasts

Choiceology: Fail Better

Katy Milkman talks with Lauren Eskreis-Winkler about how failure affects learning. 
EconTalk: John List on Scale, Uber, and the Voltage Effect

John List discusses why some great ideas scale and some don’t.
The Happiness Lab: “Are We Born to Work? Or Born to Live?”

Laurie Santos has a conversation with Cassie Holmes about time, purpose, and the pursuit of happiness.

We have a new Twitter handle!
Follow @BehaviorChange if you don’t already, to stay up to date on the latest from BCFG.

About BCFG

The Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania is co-led by Psychology and Wharton Professor Angela Duckworth and Wharton Professor Katy Milkman. BCFG unites a world-class, interdisciplinary team of academic experts with leading organizational partners to advance the science and practice of behavior change.

We’re always interested in hearing about new areas to explore and potential collaborations. Contact us anytime.
Copyright © 2022 Behavior Change for Good, All rights reserved.

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