We have blogged extensively about the merits of randomized trials to help us make better decisions under uncertainty, the topic of Chapter 17. The WSJ has a report on progress by the "randomistas" on identifying and overcoming the barriers to success. The following human traits are among the biggest obstacles to rising out of poverty:
• love to gamble regardless of the odds of winning, leading them to bet on underdogs, play the lottery or hit the slot machines;
• value distant risks and rewards much less than current gains and losses;
• often lack the motivation to pursue their own best interest unless it can be done almost effortlessly—declining to get vaccinated, for instance, until they are given a map of where the clinic is located;
• procrastinate, putting off until tomorrow just about everything they can get away without doing today;
• put money into arbitrary buckets, creating different “mental accounts” for various purposes, even though all dollars should be equal;
• want the comfort of knowing that others agree with them;
• are impatient to their own detriment, preferring to take pension payments in one lump sum rather than as an annuity spread over time or to start receiving Social Security payments as soon as possible instead of deferring them.