Episode 22: Ayelet Fishbach, popular psychology professor and expert on human behavior

An expert in human behavior and decision making, she studies everything from dinner menus to charitable giving.

In 2016, Dr. Ayelet Fishbach, a social scientist who researches human behavior, published a study that showed that people who eat the same food are more likely to get along. So if you're on a date, order the same dish as your companion. Or if you're at an important business lunch, look at what your colleague is eating.

That's just one of the many of Dr. Fishbach's studies that have made headlines. Almost all of her research falls under the category of motivation and incentives. How can we better stick to our New Years resolutions? What's the best way to cope with deadlines? What's the best way to convince someone to give to charity? Why do good people sometimes to bad things? It's this wide breadth of topics that has made her psychology classes some of the most popular at the University of Chicago business school. She's now taken her show on the road, and is spending the year teaching at Yale University.

On today's episode, we chat with Dr. Fishbach about her many fields of research including how to impress your boss, how to make new friends, and why donating blood is better than donating money.

Further reading:

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Dr. Ayelet Fishbach teaches a wide variety of topics as a social scientist at the University of Chicago. Dr. Ayelet Fishbach teaches a wide variety of topics as a social scientist at the University of Chicago. (Photo: Courtesy)

Transcript

Benyamin: On this episode of "Our Friend From Israel" ...

Male: And all over the world people say they make friends by breaking bread together. There's this assumption that when you sit down to eat with one another, you become closer. Well, let's talk ...

Benyamin: In 2016, Dr. Ayelet Fishbach, a social scientist who researches human behavior, published a study that showed that people who eat the same food are more likely to get along. So, if you're on a date, order the same dish as your companion. Or, if you're at an important business lunch, look at what your colleague is eating.

Male: So, the bottom line is, if you want to use food to build trust, if you want to cater food for a company event or a community meeting, don't just aim to eat together with other people, try to ensure you're eating the same food that everyone else is eating.

Benyamin: That's just one of the many of Dr. Fishbach's studies that have made headlines. Almost all of her research falls under the category of motivation. How can we better stick to our New Year's resolutions? What's the best way to cope with deadlines? What's the best way to convince someone to give charity? Why do good people sometimes do bad things?

Benyamin: It's this wide breadth of topics that has made her psychology classes some of the most popular at the University of Chicago Business School.

Male: Ayelet Fishbach is the Jeffrey Breckenridge Keller professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at Chicago Booth. She studies social psychology with specific emphasis on motivation and decision making. Her research work has won her several international awards, while her teaching earned her the Provost's teaching award from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Benyamin: She's now taking her show on the road and is spending the year teaching at Yale University. On today's episode, we chat with Dr. Fishbach about her many fields of research, including, "How to impress your boss", "How to make new friends", and "Why donating blood is better than donating money". Stay tuned.

Benyamin: Welcome to "Our Friend from Israel", a podcast brought to you by FromTheGrapevine.com. I'm your host Benyamin Cohen, and each week we'll have a conversation with an intriguing Israeli. They'll come from all walks of life, actors, artists, athletes, academics, archeologists, and other news makers.

Benyamin: On today's show, we meet up with psychology professor, Dr. Ayelet Fishbach.

Ayelet: Is this good?

Benyamin: Yes, I can hear you good.

Ayelet: All right.

Benyamin: Hello everybody, and welcome to today's show. Today we are joined by Dr. Ayelet Fishbach. Welcome to the program.

Ayelet: Thank you for having me.

Benyamin: So, you're a professor at the University of Chicago, but you're spending the year somewhere else this year?

Ayelet: Yes. I'm currently on my sabbatical at Yale.

Benyamin: A lot of your research falls under the category of incentives and motivations. And I know one of the most fascinating topics, at least to me, of your research, has to do with deadlines. Deadlines is something that everybody deals with whether you're a high up executive, or a school teacher, or a parent, or whatever that your job is, you're going to have to deal with deadlines. And I know you researched that. What's the biggest misconception that people have about deadlines?

Ayelet: Let me think. Maybe it's not the biggest, let's say one of the fallacies that we know ... this is not specifically my research, but you can find it there too, we know it basically from lots and lots of studies, is the planning fallacy. The planning fallacy is our failure to account of what might actually happen and delay our plans. We know that our deadlines, the deadlines that we set for ourselves, the deadlines that we set for others, are almost always unrealistic. They almost always describe, "How fast am I going to accomplish something if everything goes absolutely smoothly, and there is no ... any issue along the way?" Which of course will never happen. Life will happen. There will be other issues, and so people are not going to meet their deadlines.

Ayelet: Now, we need to think about whether that's a problem. My own research found that, well ... to the extent that you let people state these super-optimistic deadlines, well, by itself, that's motivating. That's, if I tell you that I'm going to finish something next week as opposed to next month, I'm going to work harder this week. Will I finish it this week? No. I'm like everybody else, usually don't quite meet my deadlines.

Benyamin: That's interesting, because I usually do the opposite. I usually, when I'm at work or something, I'll do a far deadline if my boss asks me, "When can you have something?" I'll say, "A week from now," even though I know it's only going to take me a day or two. And that way, well, first of all I have the buffer of the week, but that way I can impress the boss by turning something in early.

Ayelet: Yeah.

Benyamin: And in addition to that, my whole philosophy around deadlines, personally is, I like to cross things off my list. I get such joy out of crossing things off my list. When I have a lot of chores to do on a weekend, on a Sunday, I try to do all the chores on Sunday morning so that I can just relax on Sunday afternoon.

Ayelet: Let me say that you are a very unusual person.

Benyamin: Okay.

Ayelet: Most of us don't finish things before the deadline.

Benyamin: Okay.

Ayelet: Now, let's take your boss' perspective. Here is an employee that is purposely giving themselves a long deadline. Okay?

Benyamin: Right.

Ayelet: So, they take a week for something that should only take half an hour. Well, if the boss was less concerned about meeting deadlines and more aware of how you can use deadlines to motivate people, they would encourage you to set a closer deadline.

Benyamin: I guess I just gave away my secret, on the air.

Ayelet: Yeah. Let's hope that person doesn't listen.

Benyamin: I think he does listen to the show. And I know you do a lot of research. Obviously we can't cover all your research, but I wanted to do something fun, just a quick lightening round. Maybe we could talk just for a minute, you could talk about different things. I have some of your research up here on my screen.

Benyamin: We recently had Hurricane Florence and I know we're in hurricane season right now. Often times after hurricanes people give donations to disaster relief efforts, and you did a study about why people give money to certain charities and not other charities. Is that right? Could you give us a quick rundown of what that study was?

Ayelet: I have quite a few papers and studies on charitable giving. It's a big topic in my research portfolio. It's something that's very interesting for me, "Why people engage in giving?" And, "What can get them to give?" So, I'm not quite sure which ...

Benyamin: The one I was reading was that you found that people give to charities that are closer to home, a local charity, as opposed to like ... an African charity, because it's just so far away in their mind.

Ayelet: Yes. That was a fun study. We predicted, no, we had the intuition that people think about their help as something that is on the decline as it goes the distance. That if I send five dollars to a place that's far away, that's going to have less impact than if I give it to somewhere that's close to home.

Ayelet: That was interesting because first, that cannot possibly be true. The fact of the matter is that five dollar will have more impact on far away places that are poor, than in Chicago where it can basically, I don't know ... buy you a cup of coffee.

Benyamin: Right.

Ayelet: Right? So, that cannot be true. But also that imply that if you take the same place and describe it as close or far, then people are going to give more when it appears to be close. We also found that when we looked at donations that people give to their Alma Mater, basically giving to your college, or graduate school, and it was really interesting to see that the farther people are from their college town, just in geography, the less likely they are to give, the less that they are giving. So, people really believe their money is not doing the same when it travels a distance.

Benyamin: I think we saw that last year with Puerto Rico versus Houston. More people in America maybe were interested in giving to help Houston than they were to help Puerto Rico, would you say that's a fair assessment?

Ayelet: Yes, absolutely. It's interesting to know though that there's also some social distance, so you might care less for people that you don't see as part of your immediate society. You might be less concerned about the welfare of people that are more far away. And we know that, and that's an interesting finding by itself.

Ayelet: What we were able to show is that if you take the same people with the same amount of social caring, like how close they feel to me as fellow society members, if you frame them, if you present them as being more geographically removed, then people are going to think that their donations has less impact, and give less.

Benyamin: So, what can charities do to combat that?

Ayelet: In one study we basically played with solicitations that schools send to their alums, and in one solicitation we basically emphasized that the university's close by. "We are writing to you from nearby Chicago," basically reminding people that they are not far away. That increased donations.

Ayelet: Can I tell you about another fun finding?

Benyamin: Sure, absolutely.

Ayelet: Another thing that we just published a couple of years ago which I thought was really fun, in thinking about charitable giving, was that people would like to give something from the self. We found that you get people to feel more committed if their giving feels personal, if they donate some property that they owned, if they donate their clothes.

Ayelet: In one study we gave people a pen that they were writing with, they were working with it, and then asked if they will donate it. And they felt that they are giving more, they felt more committed to give if they gave that pen that they were already using that was theirs, as opposed to a pen that they just got a second ago. We even found that when people consider giving blood, donating blood versus money, that makes them much more attached to the cause. They care about the cause much more if they donated blood than money.

Benyamin: Continuing our quick ... I mean, it wasn't so quick, but ... continuing our quick lightning round of some other research, I read about a study you did about how food literally brings people together, and that when people, let's say two business people are at a business lunch and they order the same food that the negotiations might go easier or something? Is that correct?

Ayelet: Absolutely, and the negotiation was easier, meaning it was resolved sooner with a larger payoff for both parties. Basically when people are eating the same food, that's a cue to connect. This is something that has been studied in psychology, also in anthropology. We know that food connects people. We know that sharing a meal is a sign that you are part of my group. Eating similar food is often how cultures define themselves. All ethnic food is doing that. I and another person now are sharing an Indian meal or Chinese meal, that is a way to communicate that we both care about this group, we belong to the group, we sympathize with that.

Ayelet: We took this background to see what happens when you let two people who negotiate eat the same food or different foods and ... I already gave a punchline: basically when people are eating the same food they reach an agreement faster and they get higher pay.

Benyamin: So, if I'm at a business lunch I should wait for the other person to order, and then I should order the same food that he did?

Ayelet: Yes, or if you're organizing that, you should try to limit the options so that there is largely overlap.

Benyamin: Well, I guess you can do that if you're catering a meal, let's say in an office. You could just bring in a certain kind of food or something.

Ayelet: Exactly. Yes. Make them eat together and make them eat similar food.

Benyamin: Fascinating.

Benyamin: When we return, Ayelet explains why good people sometimes do bad things.

Ayelet: Lance Armstrong is a good example. When he was caught doping, his line of defense was, "Everybody's doing that. So, I wouldn't if it was just up to me, but given that everybody else is doing that, then ... No, I assume that wasn't the problem, or that's what is required to be like everybody else. In a way that doesn't reflect on who I am, it doesn't reflect on my morality."

Benyamin: All that, and much more, after the break.

Benyamin: You may remember a recent episode we had with "From the Grapevine's" resident chef Sarah Berkowitz.

Sarah B.: You know, I had an interest in psychology since I was very little. I love the idea of nurturing people and helping them fix their problems, and I've really discovered that food has a way of doing that. The act of eating and cooking for someone is very intimate and I find that it creates a strong bond. It's the kind of gift, when you give someone homemade food, or when you cook a meal for someone, it really strengthens your bond. It's more than just food.

Benyamin: She's made more than 400 recipes for our site, and now we're offering something special. Sarah will send one lucky with listener her famous cranberry pistachio biscotti and chocolate truffle biscotti. If you want that scrumptious deliciousness sent to your mailbox here's all you need to do ...

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Benyamin: So, pull up the iTunes store on your phone or on your computer and show your creativity. Help out the show, and a box of biscotti could be on its way to your door. We'll name the winner on an upcoming episode of the podcast. Thanks for your help.

Benyamin: And now back to today's conversation with psychology professor Dr. Ayelet Fishbach.

Benyamin: I read about a study you did, I call it the Breaking Bad study, where you talk about otherwise good people can make unethical decisions. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Ayelet: Yes. So, we think about unethical decisions as often a failure of self-control, as often something that we do because it was just too small in our minds to register as a self control problem. We're doing it not quite thinking about the consequences, or that we found ourselves in the situation not quite preparing for this in advance, so ...

Ayelet: Just like we overeat because we really didn't plan in advance to be facing with all this yummy food. We might cheat because, "Here's the opportunity and I wasn't thinking in advance that it will be so tempting to do the wrong thing here, and it felt kind of small and maybe I thought that everybody else is doing that."

Ayelet: And so there is a temptation to behave unethically. And we study this as basically a problem with temptations.

Benyamin: So, your thesis is that, even someone who's normally a good person can still do unethical things every once in a while?

Ayelet: Yes, absolutely. Most of the unethical behavior is conducted by people that at least see themselves as ethical. Okay? There are very few of us that go around thinking that, "I'm a bad person." Most of us think, "I am a good person and I did something that doesn't quite live up to my standards. Well, that's not me."

Ayelet: And one of my papers is titled, "It wasn't me."

Benyamin: But that's fascinating because, obviously ... I think about a classic person like a mob boss, like a Tony Soprano. Obviously he realizes that what he's doing is unethical, and yet he chooses to do it anyway. But when a normally good person does something bad like cut in line at the grocery store or steal something that's maybe not of big monetary value, you're saying we don't call that unethical in our head, we kind of justify it?

Ayelet: Yes, we can justify it. We can often say that it wasn't about me, it was about my situation. Lance Armstrong is a good example. When he was caught doping, his line of defense was, "Everybody's doing that, so I wouldn't if it was just up to me, but given that everybody else is doing that. No, I assume that wasn't the problem or that's what is required to be like everybody else. In a way, that doesn't reflect on who I am, and doesn't reflect on my morality."

Ayelet: Most of the immoral kind of things that we do, the small unethical things, we just say, "Well, it doesn't reflect on who I am," or, "I was just caught in the moment; I wasn't really thinking through that."

Benyamin: Like what examples would fall into that category?

Ayelet: In one study we let people flip a coin, and every time they flip the coin they basically assign themselves to either a nice and easy and very short task, or a long and boring not-so-much-fun task. And there are 10 of those.

Ayelet: So, I flip a coin, I do the task that I was assigned to, short or long. I flip again, I do the task but I'm assigned to. And almost no one is cheating on the first flip. How do we know that? Well, 50% of the people on the first flip are doing the long task and 50% are doing what is expected by a random conflict, then we say, "Well, there's no cheating."

Ayelet: Now, also, on the very last coin flip there was very little cheating. It was just about 50% that did the short tasks so maybe a few were cheating but the majority were okay, were acting according to what we would expect if you just assume that half of the people were supposed to do the long task.

Ayelet: But in the middle we saw that the rate of people taking the long task is decreasing, and it went down to something like 40%, or even like 30%. And that is basically people saying, "Well, you know, I've done some long tasks already. It's kind of boring. I flipped the coin and I just got another long task. And you know what? Maybe this flip doesn't really count, let me flip again." Right?

Benyamin: Okay.

Ayelet: "So, now I just need to get a short flip, one side out of two."

Ayelet: And that's enough to get a significant number of the people basically doing the task that they were not assigned to but that is more fun to do. The idea was to show that in the middle there was more slacking. People start the task right, they end it right, they cut corners in the middle.

Ayelet: By the way, this is now not about being ethical, but kind of related, this is adherence to traditional values that are important for people, we also documented in the same paper that Israelis reported lighting the menorah on Hanukkah more on the first night and the last night than the nights in the middle.

Speaker 3: Wow, and that would be because why?

Ayelet: Because kind of slacking in the middle. "I care about it, I want to do it. It's important for me to participate in this tradition, and to educate my kids, and I'm very good on the first night, and I'm very good on the last night, but in the middle life takes over," and people don't quite do this.

Speaker 3: And even in a situation like that, it's not necessarily that people are seeing it or people notice it. It's almost you ... like I said earlier, justifying it to yourself, that the first night or the second night is more important than the middle nights.

Ayelet: Yes. The first night is really, "I will remember that. Okay? And that's who I am, that's important. The last night also, I will remember it. I'll pay attention, it's who I am. And in the middle, life takes over." Yeah.

Ayelet: Another example of what causes ethical people to behave unethically is that they're just unprepared. We found that if we tell people in advance, "When you're going to do it you will be tempted to cheat a little bit", they are less likely to cheat. They are doing things the right way.

Benyamin: And does it make a difference if they know somebody's watching, like if you say we have hidden cameras in the room or something like that?

Ayelet: I bet so, but then it's really not about the moral values one has, right? It's about the consequences.

Benyamin: Right, right. This reminds me a lot of a test. I remember reading Dan Ariely from Duke University did a test about ... He wrote a book about dishonesty, and in it he explains a test he did where people had a ... it was basically on the honor system. People had to answer questions on a test, and then they went up to the teacher and they put the test inside a shredder, and they shredded the test, and then they told the teacher how many questions they answered. And a lot of people lied about how many questions they answered.

Ayelet: Yes. And I don't quite remember the numbers in this paper, but the point of that study and of Dan Ariely's work in general, is that they don't cheat all the way. Presumably I can tell you they got all the answers correct, and if you pay me by correct answers then I will make the most money. But people who, let's say, knew only half of the answers will say that they knew 60% or 70%. So, it's kind of ... the kind of cheating where I could say, "Well, I took a little bit more than I deserve, but I'm still a good person."

Speaker 2: So, it's all about our own moral value, how we look at our self?

Ayelet: Yeah, absolutely, yes.

Benyamin: Yeah. I want to talk about another study you did recently, I think it was this year or last year, where you talked about giving advice. And the question was, "Is it better to give advice or receive advice?" And I think you had some surprising answers in that study. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Ayelet: Yes, this is actually a very new study for us, we just published it this year.

Benyamin: Okay, so I'm on top of things?

Ayelet: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, you're in there. You're updated.

Ayelet: We were interested in a phenomenon that we encountered kind of accidentally. We were asking people that were struggling with all kinds of issues to give advice, and they said something like, "Who am I to advise on this?" So, like we ask an overweight person to tell us how to lose weight, and they say something like, "What do I know? I'm obviously a failure."

Ayelet: And we looked at this and we said, "Well, that doesn't seem quite right, because obviously if you're struggling with weight loss you have much more knowledge than someone who is just thin, who's just never thought about that, who doesn't collect information."

Ayelet: And for many of the problems that people deal with they actually accumulate a lot of information, and the reason that they might not perform to their level of expectation is really motivation, it's not the lack of knowledge.

Ayelet: The reason that an unemployed person that doesn't apply for jobs might be because this person cannot motivate herself. "It's been too hard, I've been getting too many rejections." So, it's not that they don't have the knowledge, it's a motivational problem.

Ayelet: And so, we did a study that basically either gave people that were struggling with a bunch of motivational issues, either give them the best advice that we could find. Okay? So, if you're struggling with saving, we're going to give you the best advice that we can find on saving, [inaudible 00:28:43] the expert. If you are struggling with controlling your anger, we are going to find the best experts to explain to people how to control their negative emotions. Or, we are going to ask people to give advice to another person, another fellow human being who's struggling with the same thing as you do, and then we're going to ask everybody, regardless of whether they gave advice or were giving advice, how motivated they are to do something about it.

Ayelet: "How motivated are you right now to start saving, or lose weight, or control your anger or start sending applications for jobs?" And what we found across all these domains, that people that were giving advice to others were more motivated than the people who were receiving advice.

Benyamin: Let me just see if I'm clear with that. The very act of giving advice motivated people more than people who received advice?

Ayelet: Absolutely, absolutely. And this is because the act of giving advice reminds you that you actually know a lot. You are the expert, you accumulated all this information as you were struggling with this issue. And it's kind of a reminder, "Yes, I can do it, I know a lot about it." I was just going to mention that we found that the same thing worked with middle school children when they gave advice to other struggling students, they spend more time studying than when they received advice from teachers.

Benyamin: Meaning what?

Ayelet: Meaning that if you ask a struggling student to give advice to another struggling student, "How do you get yourself to do this homework?" they're going to spend more time on their homework than if you get the best teacher explaining to them, "How do you get yourself to do your homework."

Benyamin: That's fascinating. I guess because you're getting the kid, or the person, whoever is giving the advice to, first of all, proactively think about fixing a problem. And does it kind of build up confidence in a person that they're giving advice on a topic?

Ayelet: Yes, it's really about confidence. You were approached because we believe that we have relevant knowledge, and as you were starting to reflect on this relevant knowledge, you discovered that indeed you have it.

Benyamin: That's fascinating.

Ayelet: when we struggle with something, we learned a lot about it.

Benyamin: That's true.

Ayelet: Right.

Benyamin: That's very true.

Benyamin: If you're enjoying this episode, you might also want to listen to our interview with Professor Tal Ben-Shahar. His class on positive psychology was the most popular course in the history of Harvard.

Tal Ben Shahar: My favorite word in English is the word 'appreciate.' I love that word. And if you think about it, it has two meanings. And the two meanings of the word 'appreciate' are intimately connected. Why? Because when you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.

Benyamin: Check out that interview and our entire archives of episodes at OurFriendfromIsrael.com

Benyamin: And now back to today's conversation with psychology professor Dr. Ayelet Fischbach.

Benyamin: When we started the conversation we dove right into all your research and I kind of skipped over a little bit of biography about you, and I'm sure it'll be interesting for our listeners to hear. Where did you grow up and how did you get into interested in this field?

Ayelet: Well, I grew up in Israel in a kibbutz. I went to study psychology, and had no idea what psychology was, so I was just open-minded. I took classes in Cognitive Psychology, and Physiology, and Clinical Psychology, and also a bit of Education, and a bit of Political Science, and whatever.

Benyamin: This is at Tel Aviv University?

Ayelet: Yes, at Tel Aviv University. And Social Psychology stuck. It was really the kind of questions and the kind of findings that I found myself wanting to think about and wanting to answer. And the way higher education works is that once you finish college you can, if you don't want to get a job, you can sign up and continue to a PhD.

Benyamin: I'm married to a PhD, so I know what it is.

Ayelet: Right? It's like, "It's interesting let's study some more."

Benyamin: Yeah.

Ayelet: And one thing leads to another. You got a PhD, well what do you do now? Well here, you can get a post doc.

Benyamin: Right.

Ayelet: [inaudible 00:34:12] It turned out that after you get a college degree and a PhD and a postdoc, then they get make you get a job.

Benyamin: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Ayelet: Yeah. And that's how I ended up at the University of Chicago.

Benyamin: Did you always want to be a professor growing up? Was that something that you thought about, or you didn't even think about it back then?

Ayelet: I didn't know that there was such a profession, so there was no way that I would plan to be one of those people. I discovered that there are professors, and that what they do is mainly research, when I started my college studies.

Benyamin: Right. My wife works at a university where probably 50% of what she does is research, and I don't think most people growing up know that that kind of thing exists. They hear "professor", they think they're teaching all day. They don't realize there's a whole research component.

Ayelet: Yes, that is absolutely true. I don't know that I want to reveal that secret here, because ...

Benyamin: All right.

Ayelet: It's kind of fun that we have this job. But yeah, to be serious, yes, unfortunately not all people know what it means to be a researcher. And I say "unfortunately" because there are certain populations that just know less about this option of an academic career, and we are trying to bring them here. We are trying to get them involved in research, we're trying to get the talent out.

Benyamin: What's the composition of female to male in your field? Are you trying to get more women involved in this kind of research?

Ayelet: Yeah, that's a bit depressing, we don't have many women. Yeah, that needs to be fixed.

Benyamin: What advice would give to female college students nowadays, to maybe get them more involved in that?

Ayelet: You say what would I tell women, it's also what would we tell men, or what would we tell people in these institutions that have a minority of women. It's not necessarily on the young women's shoulders to open the path, it's on us as a society to allow that. There is a lot of research on that, I'm not going to get into all of it.

Ayelet: I tried to give an example. I tried to be in those decision places and show that, yes you can be a woman, you can have three children, and have a successful academic career.

Benyamin: So, you said you've been doing this for 20 years at this point now, 15-20 years?

Ayelet: I said 20 years is a fair estimate. I just wasn't counting as quickly as you did.

Benyamin: Okay. And so if you and I were to have a conversation 10 years from now, where do you hope that you'll be 10 years from now?

Ayelet: That's a good question. I know part of being an academic and a researcher is kind of like redefining yourself and going with the discoveries. I would like to discover more interesting things. I do have predictions, I do have hypotheses, I do have an agenda. There are things that I would like to find, but then there are the things that I find, and they don't always overlap and there is always priority to what is actually out there. Right, Ben?

Benyamin: Right, right.

Ayelet: Over what I was hoping to find. So, I would say that pretty much continue on this path and having more interesting discoveries to share with you. It's a pretty awesome job. I want to do many more years of that.

Benyamin: I know I've taken up a lot of your time. I like to end all of my interviews with this question, "Is there any question I did not ask you that I should have asked you?"

Ayelet: Ooh ... You ask good questions. I don't know. Other people have good answer to that? whatever they said.

Benyamin: I mean ... "Whatever they said."

Benyamin: Sometimes I forget to ask something and so I like to give people an opportunity. Sometimes people say something new that they're working on that I wouldn't know about. You know?

Ayelet: Yeah. Well ... I say one thing is that there is nowadays, that is, over the last few years, much more implication of the work in the behavioral science. We see that there is much more of dedicating into fitness clubs, educational programs. Anything that's related to [inaudible 00:39:17]. Getting people to save, getting people to make better financial decisions. We see the behavioral science getting much more into people's lives.

Benyamin: Beyond the typical business school, you're talking about it's spreading all over, whether it's your shopping habits, your fitness habits or things like that?

Ayelet: Yes, and so it's an exciting time for the behavioral sciences because there's so much interest in society, and so many applications in a way. Things that 20 years ago we were doing and no one really paid attention except for our community and our students, right now there is much more media exposure. There is much more an attempt to apply these findings. So, it's a really exciting time for the social sciences in general, the behavioral sciences in particular.

Benyamin: All right Ayelet, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed our conversation. I think I learned a lot. Hopefully our listeners learned a lot. Really, it was great having you on the show today.

Ayelet: Thank you, it was a lot of fun for me too. Thanks for having me.

Benyamin: All right, take care. Bye-bye.

Ayelet: You too, bye-bye.

Benyamin: "Our Friend from Israel" is a production FromtheGrapevine.com.

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Benyamin: I'm your host Benyamin Cohen, and until next time, we hope you have a great week.

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Episode 22: Ayelet Fishbach, popular psychology professor and expert on human behavior
An expert in human behavior and decision making, she studies everything from dinner menus to charitable giving.