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Behavior Change for Good Summer Newsletter

Happy Summer! We’re excited to share our team’s latest work, including a new initiative encouraging COVID-19 vaccination. Below, you’ll also find some of our favorite new podcasts and publications from our team scientists. We hope you’ll enjoy!

Katy Milkman and Angela Duckworth
BCFG Co-Directors 

Sweepstakes to Nudge COVID-19 Vaccination


BCFG, in partnership with the Black Doctors COVID-19 ConsortiumCHIBE and the City of Philadelphia, has launched the Philly Vax Sweepstakes, a science-backed initiative to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates in Philadelphia. The sweepstakes uses what behavioral scientists call a “regret lottery,” as residents are automatically entered into the sweepstakes but can only win if they’ve gotten vaccinated. The sweepstakes also prioritizes the city’s most under-vaccinated communities: the 20 Philadelphia zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates are candidates to become the “selected” zip code in each of the three sweepstakes drawings, and half of the winners in each drawing will come from the selected zip code. Many BCFG team scientists co-designed this sweepstakes, including our co-directors (Katy and Angela), Richard Thaler, Devin Pope, Kevin Volpp and Allison Buttenheim. Read more here.

Selected News Coverage of the COVID-19 Vaccination Sweepstakes

For more coverage of the Philly Vax Sweepstakes and the science behind it, listen to Katy's NPR interview below or watch her Congressional Testimony on C-SPAN.

All Things Considered: The Science Behind Vaccine Incentives

Katy Milkman talks with NPR's Ari Shapiro about which vaccine incentives work, and why some work better than others.

New Toolkit - A Field-Tested Messaging Technique to Boost Vaccination Uptake

With ideas42, we created a toolkit for encouraging vaccine adoption via simple, text-based reminders. The toolkit summarizes the main take-aways from BCFG’s megastudies on nudging flu vaccination uptake and includes a guide for adapting these messaging techniques to other contexts, including COVID-19.

Spotlight: Changing Behavior with Team Scientist Francesca Gino

Francesca Gino studies how people can have more productive, creative and fulfilling lives. She is a professor at Harvard Business School and the bestselling author, most recently, of “Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules in Work and Life.” Francesca has been honored as one of the world’s Top 40 Business Professors under 40 and one of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers 50. Francesca regularly gives keynote speeches, delivers corporate training programs and serves in advisory roles for firms and not-for-profit organizations across the globe.

BCFG: You’ve recently done some work around curiosity. How do you define curiosity?

Francesca Gino: I define curiosity, building on existing research, as the impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities. Curiosity is a basic human attribute. As children, we all do that naturally. We are born curious. But as we grow older, our attitude toward curiosity changes. If you look at the data, in fact, curiosity peaks at age 4-5, and then it declines steadily from there.

BCFG: Why is it important to be curious?

Gino: Curiosity leads to a wide range of benefits for us and the environments we are part of. Here are a few that research finds: More creativity, faster learning, fewer decision-making errors, lower group conflict, more open communication, better team performance, more diverse networks, less bias, and more effective collaboration

BCFG: What advice do you have for people who are looking to foster curiosity in themselves?

Gino: Curiosity is not only something we are born with. It can be fostered. We can encourage curiosity in ourselves and others by being inquisitive more often. Rather than fearing judgment, we can ask questions, embracing the power of inquisitiveness. We can also emphasize learning goals and identify specific ones for us, no matter how much we already know. And finally, we can broaden our interests, whether through reading, taking on new hobbies or getting to know others.

A while back, I came across a rather interesting organization: pirate ships in the 16th century. At a time when it was 200 years before slavery ended in the US, pirate ships were the most diverse organization in the globe. They got people to be part of the crew because of their skills and attitude, not because of their skin color or gender. But there was something else that was quite interesting about them: the way they were organized. The crew chose the captain. And the crew could remove the captain if he or she did not behave well towards the crew. That raised a question for me, which I think about regularly: “am I the type of captain that my crew would choose as its leader today?”  If we help the crew (whether it is our colleagues, friends or kids) hold on to their curiosity, if we use the strategies we discussed to foster curiosity, then I think we’ll be more likely to say yes. And in that way, we and our crew will be ready to experience the joy of curiosity and all the benefits it brings about.

To learn more about Fran's research, check out her BCFG virtual seminar, Piqued Curiosity or watch her new TEDx talk  The Power of Why: Unlocking a Curious Mind.

Books: Award Winners Written by BCFG Scientists

Congratulations to Adam Grant (Think Again), Ethan Kross (Chatter), Cass Sunstein (Noise), and BCFG Co-Director Katy Milkman (How to Change) for having their books named to Amazon's list of the 20  “best business and leadership books of 2021 so far.”  We think the fact that a full fifth of winners were penned by BCFG team scientists is pretty nifty!

Hear More From BCFG Team Scientists in These Podcasts

No Stupid Questions: What Changes Will Stick When the Pandemic is Gone?

Angela Duckworth and co-host Stephen Dubner talk about how things have changed during the pandemic, and which changes we will continue to see.

The Happiness Lab: A Slight Change of Plans

Team Scientist Laurie Santos talks with Google's Maya Shankar about how people can use unexpected changes - both good and bad - to grow in new ways.

Choiceology: Scientist Mode

Katy Milkman talks with Luca Parmitano and Team Scientist Adam Grant about how testing hunches and questioning assumptions - thinking like a scientist - can help people make better decisions.

About BCFG

The Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania is co-led by Psychology 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 © 2021 Behavior Change for Good, All rights reserved.

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