Empowering People through Behavioral Science


In this blog we will provide commentary on the latest research topics and insights from the NPP Project. Check back often to see and comment on new posts!

From time to time we may also invite outside commentators to post here about the research being done by NPP researchers – if you think you might have a good idea for a blog post on this site, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Sep 13 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose
Purpose Across the Lifespan

Don’t Forget Your Souvenir: How material possessions influence long term happiness

It has been argued time and time again that positive experiences are more important than material possessions when it comes to making us happy in the short term. But what about the long term? Does the joy of a wonderful experience fade more quickly than the happiness associated with gifts and gadgets? Recent research suggests that combining the material with the non-material might be one strategy to ‘get the best of both worlds’ in order to preserve and extend the feelings of happiness derived from life’s richest and most purpose-laden experiences. 

By Brittany Christian, Zach Bradley
Aug 18 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose
Purpose & Well-Being

Do rose-colored glasses make you happy? How happiness and a positive focus influence each other

In our happy moments, the sun seems to always shine and everyone around us is warm and friendly. And, indeed, past research has shown that when we’re happy we perceive more positive things in our environment. But some people are naturally happy. What is their secret? Recent research suggests that naturally happy people might wear rose-colored glasses more often than the rest of us. 

By Janina Steinmetz
Aug 13 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose
Purpose & Prosocial Behavior
Purpose Across the Lifespan

The Way I See It: Emotions That Exacerbate Egocentrism

Mentally stepping into another person’s shoes is believed to be one of the most remarkably unique capabilities of the human mind. But, just because we can entertain other perspectives, doesn’t imply that it comes easily.  Inherently egocentric, we tend to be tightly laced in our own point of view and it often takes a few tricky mental maneuvers to get into someone else’s sneakers. What we might not realize, however, is that our own emotional states may undermine even the most sincere desires to connect with another person by understanding their point of view. Recent research identifies the types of emotions that exacerbate our natural tendency to (wrongly) assume everyone sees the world just as we do.

By Brittany Christian
May 28 2015
Purpose in Goal Pursuit
Practical Tools for Purpose
Purpose Across the Lifespan

Counting the days: How to start preparing for the future

Most of us never have enough time. We feel like there are so many urgent tasks to tend to in the present that we often neglect the future. We assume that our future selves will somehow have more time, energy, and patience to deal with everything we cannot deal with right now. However, most of us never stop being busy, and thus we often fail to sufficiently focus on the future. Consequently, long-term goals in areas such as finances, health, and professional success may suffer. Pursuing purpose in life requires looking beyond all of the immediate and urgent things that are going on, and to focus on what really gives us meaning. How can we stop delegating tasks to our future selves and start working for our future now?

By Janina Steinmetz, Brittany Christian
May 22 2015
Purpose & Prosocial Behavior
Purpose & Well-Being

When Getting Less Makes You More Generous

Although fairness is an important concern that can bring a sense of purpose into one’s life, it can also lead to inefficacy as it can prevent people from giving more to others for fear that they will appear unfair if they create inequality between others. That is, people may prefer to be generous to others, but they may fail to do so because of a concern with fairness. In such situations, must fairness and generosity conflict with one another? NPP members Shoham Choshen-Hillel, Alex Shaw, and Eugene Caruso from the University of Chicago Booth demonstrate one way that people can give more to one person than another without being perceived as unfair. 

By Alex Shaw

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