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Home » Why It’s So Hard To Make Healthy Decisions: David Asch (Transcript)

Why It’s So Hard To Make Healthy Decisions: David Asch (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of behavioral economist David Asch’s talk titled “Why It’s So Hard To Make Healthy Decisions” at TED 2019 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

The Irrational Governor

It’s April of 2007, and Jon Corzine, the Governor of New Jersey, is in this horrific car accident. He’s in the right front passenger seat of this SUV when it crashes on the Garden State Parkway. He’s transported to a New Jersey trauma center with multiple broken bones and multiple lacerations. He needs immediate surgery, seven units of blood, a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe and several more operations along the way.

It’s amazing he survived. But perhaps even more amazing, he was not wearing a seat belt. And, in fact, he never wore a seat belt, and the New Jersey state troopers who used to drive Governor Corzine around used to beg him to wear a seat belt, but he didn’t do it.

Now, before Corzine was Governor of New Jersey, he was the US Senator from New Jersey, and before that, he was the CEO of Goldman Sachs, responsible for taking Goldman Sachs public, making hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, no matter what you think of Jon Corzine politically or how he made his money, nobody would say that he was stupid. But there he was, an unrestrained passenger in a car accident, at a time when every American knows that seat belts save lives. This single story reflects a fundamental weakness in our approach to improving health behavior.

Nearly everything we tell doctors and everything we tell patients is based on the idea that we behave rationally. If you give me information, I will process that information in my head, and my behavior will change as a result. Do you think Jon Corzine didn’t know that seat belts save lives?

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Knowledge vs. Behavior

Do you think he, like, just didn’t get the memo? Jon Corzine did not have a knowledge deficit, he had a behavior deficit. It’s not that he didn’t know better. He knew better. It’s that he didn’t do better.

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