The TDL team is sharing some of our favorite behavioral science reads to help you kickstart your year of reading (better late than never!).
👋 Hi there
Let’s cut to the chase: at least half of the people reading this email made it their New Year’s Resolution to read more books in 2023, and of those people, about 95% are woefully behind schedule.
Listen. It’s okay. This is a judgment-free zone. As a matter of fact, I am one of you, so I understand your predicament perfectly. Sometimes, after a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is try to focus your weary eyeballs on yet more words. Sometimes, it’s all you can do to just get in your jammies, kick your feet up, and watch Maxwell the Cat do his little spinny thing until you finally pass out.
I get it. But also, I know that you (we) can make this reading thing a reality if you (we) really want.
Over the years here at TDL, we’ve shared a lot of tips about habit formation. We know from research that two of the most important things you can do to make behavior change stick is to make the target behavior both easy and attractive — i.e., make it fun. So in that vein, we rounded up some BeSci-themed book recommendations from TDLers far and wide. We hope you find some inspiration to kickstart your new life as a prolific reader.
Until next time,
Katie and the (book)worms @ TDL
Today’s Topics 👀
📚 Field Notes: Buy the Books
📖 What We've Been Reading
FIELD NOTES: BUY THE BOOKS
Sitting at your middle school desk, you probably didn’t think all that much about the textbook in front of you. You almost certainly didn't think to ask why your school picked this book for you, out of all the textbooks in the world they could have chosen.
You wouldn’t be the only one. Little is known about how school districts choose learning materials — even though they have a massive impact on student outcomes. TDL partnered with the Gates Foundation to map out the decision-making processes of curriculum purchasers in the U.S., in order to ensure that every student in America has access to high-quality materials. Read about our work on our website.
Doing Good Better
By William MacAskill
"We (the privileged) tend to forget just how lucky we are in the grand scheme of things — and how our luck puts us in the awkward but important position of deciding other people’s fate. In the vein of Peter Singer, this book does a great job of stressing just how we can optimize our impact on the world by thinking about ethics more mathematically."
— Sekoul Krastev, Managing Director
Algorithms to Live By
By Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
"Algorithms to Live By offers a thought-provoking perspective on how we can apply computational concepts to better understand and optimize daily decision-making. It provides an accessible, in-depth exploration of how human behavior intersects with technology. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the practical application of computational thinking.”
— Turney McKee, Project Leader
By Nir Eyal
"A beginner’s guide to building habit-forming products."
“Mathematical formulas dictate a significant portion of our lives, from policing, to job applications, to the videos we’re recommended online. Though we treat these algorithms as neutral, O’Neil (with years of experience in academia, hedge funds, and data science) shows us they’re anything but.”
“Not to brag, but I’ve been climate anxious since before it was trendy, and every time somebody suggests I cope with it by stepping back, it makes me want to throw myself into the (rapidly rising) sea. Britt Wray’s approach is brutally raw but also refreshingly honest: in order to face the challenges ahead, we also need to grapple with these feelings head-on.”
Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain
By Bill Mesler and Shankar Vedantam
"A lot of behavioral science books focus on how to avoid bias, but Useful Delusions takes an interesting twist — it educates us on the ways in which self-deception can actually be beneficial.”
— Elizabeth Criswell, Senior Associate
An Economist Walks Into a Brothel
By Allison Schrager
"An interesting perspective on risk and risk-taking, from unlikely sources such as surfers, horse breeders, and paparazzi. A good general primer on risk! Plus, the title grabs your attention — a well-calculated risk if I say so myself."
— Jyn Moriles, Research Analyst
By Robert Greene
"Robert Greene might not be the author you introduce to your mother, but he’s built a following when it comes to work that surrounds of self-development by cultivating inner power. Mastery is a rabbit hole of anecdotes and research on how history’s thought leaders have followed surprisingly similar processes to perfect their crafts and shape their mindsets. It’s a recommended read for folks who have decided to take what they do to the next level."
— Monty Tengco, Research Analyst
OPPORTUNITIES IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE
TDL is hiring! We’re hiring for a number of positions, both remote and based in our Montreal office. Some open roles include: