Mariel Beasley

PODCAST: Hacking human behavior for good

Lab works with like-minded organizations to help low- to moderate-income people.

March 3, 2017

A handful of credit unions are working with behavioral researchers to better serve their members.

These credit unions are designing and testing solutions to improve the financial well-being of low- to moderate-income communities by working with the Common Cents Lab, which is part of the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University.

Common Cents Lab starts with the premise that, in the real world of decision-making, people are less like the logical Star Trek character Spock and more like the more impulsive cartoon character Homer Simpson, Mariel Beasley, the lab’s co-director, tells the CUNA News Podcast.

"People are a little bit like water. We like to flow downhill. We'll basically take the easiest path in front of us when possible," she says explaining how people often make real-world decisions.

Knowledge alone does not lead to behavior change, she says. A person’s environment has a profound effect on decision-making, including timing, the way the choice is presented, and societal norms.

That’s where the Common Cents Lab comes in. The lab, which is supported by the MetLife Foundation, tries to bridge the gap between people’s good intentions and actions.

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