Why Don’t People and Institutions Do What They Know They Should?
6 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2010
I propose as a central question for the social and behavioral sciences the following topic: why do people and institutions not do things that are so obviously in their self-interest, even when they want to do so? We have numerous examples of this phenomenon, from individual behavior such as seatbelt use and medication adherence, to firm outcomes such as quality improvement or cost reduction. The ability to encourage what people know to be right is central in many policy debates, including the recent health reform discussion in the United States. I indicate three lines of inquiry as promising in understanding this question: characterizing the motivation of individuals; understanding group decision-making; and undertaking interventions.
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