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About this Blog

This blog is exactly what the title suggests:

It contains the leftovers and tidbits that are of interest to me but that don't fit other outlets of which I have a few.

As a behavioral economist, I publish academic papers which are serious research (or so I'm told), but do not attract a wide audience (or so I assume).  I look forward to writing more freely here about what drives people to behave in ways that often contradict mainstream economic theory.  As someone with other diverse interests, ranging from Taekwon-do to food to fashion, I will also be leaving posts on a variety of random topics.

Finally, to clarify the seeming typo in the title of the blog: Evan is my son's name, and he is three at the time of this post.  Many posts here will have a theme of how to navigate and balance family, parenthood, career, and hobbies. There is no such thing as 'having it all', but there is such a thing as compromising to achieve balance.

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Facing the challenges of everyday life, Part 2

Fall of 2017: my closet is out of control.  Bursting at the seams with hardly ever-worn party dresses, jackets, and jumpsuits, it still manages to be completely devoid of options.  How is this possible, I muse, digging through the racks, laden with hangers, each carrying two or more items. Among the multitude of impulse buys and total duds, I locate that 15-year-old black jacket, two sizes too big and 20 dry cleans past its prime.  I wear it with a belt, and it looks ok.      Fast-forward one year: I no longer fall for impulse buys, and I almost never dry clean anything! Thank you, unlimited membership at Rent the Runway.   In a nutshell, I rent clothes, keep the four items I pick as long as I want to, and then return (no dry-cleaning required!).  As soon as the returns arrive back at the distribution center, I can pick my next items (conveniently "hearted" in the app).  First, this is a perfect mental replacement for shopping (hello, commitment device!).  I no longer go for …

Why I chose left

A few weeks ago, on March 1, 2019, I wrote a seemingly innocuous post on Facebook seeking my network’s opinions regarding my most recent professional photos.Specifically, I wrote: “Time to pick my new work profile pic! What looks more “professorial” - left or right?”The two photos are reproduced below.     Little did I know that this post would generate the greatest number of non-birthday comments ever (87!). On Instagram, the same post got 25 comments. Without even realizing it, I was conducting a survey experiment.The photo on the left displayed only a hint of a smile, chin up, and head slightly tilted to the right. The one on the right had me smiling a toothy smile, chin down, and head tilted left.Otherwise, the pictures were identical, down to the arm fold, slightly unruly hair, and outfit.(The only give-away that I didn’t originally plan this as an experiment was the fact that the two pictures were cropped differently, with the one on the left more zoomed in, so that less of m…

Redefining success

I can hardly believe it: last week marked the 10-year anniversary of my becoming a faculty member at Wellesley College.Over the last decade, I’ve coached countless students through health crises, anxiety over recruiting for jobs, striking the right school-life balance, and struggling over seemingly impossible problem set questions.But no concern looms larger for Wellesley college students than their angst over grades.      Grade anxiety isn’t just a Wellesley thing, of course. Yet the extreme extent to which grades define student experience at Wellesley has always bothered me, and never more so than now. Only at Wellesley would a student show up in her professor’s office after an exam not to argue about her grade, but rather to apologize for disappointing the professor. Oftentimes that “bad” grade is a B+!  More importantly, it seems like this self-defined “bad” grade is viewed as more than just academic weakness. Students see it as a failure in life in general – a profoundly disturbin…