Friday, January 8, 2016

Milkman on Temptation Bundling

I recently listened to a podcast on temptation bundling, featuring the work of Katherine Milkman (Wharton)

Temptation bundling is explained here and here by Katherine Milkman, who (I believe) coined the term.

In short, temptation bundling is putting something you want to do together with something you should do. 

Temptation bundling can make both activities more enjoyable --- you feel better about the want activity because you also accomplished a should activity, and the should activity is less difficult because it is married with a want activity. For example, temptation bundling is what I have been doing with podcast listening; I only listen to podcasts (want) when I workout (should).

Below are a few temptation bundles that might work for professors:

  • Drinking caffeinated drinks only while researching;
  • Listening to your favorite music only while grading; and
  • Eating chocolate only when in faculty meetings.

Behavioral Economics, Haskell Murray, Psychology, Web/Tech | Permalink


Watch out for classical conditioning in the other direction: it would be tragic to develop an aversion to chocolate.

Posted by: Scott Killingsworth | Jan 8, 2016 7:30:21 AM

Heh. I've done this for years - I can only watch my fave television shows if I simultaneously do situps. But if I limited chocolate to faculty meetings, I'd eliminate one of my major food groups.

Posted by: Ann Lipton | Jan 8, 2016 9:53:00 AM

Good point, Scott; maybe you should pair the "should activity" with something you enjoy, but would ultimately like to give up or limit. For me, soft drinks are like this. If only having soft drinks in faculty meetings made me dislike soft drinks, that would be a great win. And even if it did not, only having them in faculty meetings would still drastically limit my soft drink consumption.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jan 8, 2016 10:20:24 AM

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