There are Free Lunches Statement of Intentions

There are Free Lunches: Behavioral Clues to Live Happy in the Economic World is a blog that intends to present updated and relevant information about the "hidden" and only recently uncovered dimensions of the economic science: the behavioral factors. With this blog we intend to promote in Europe and in the rest of the World, the top research articles and perspectives on behavioral economics, decision making, consumer behavior, and general behavioral science. We aim to be followed by journalists, academics, managers, civil servants, and everyone who wishes to improve their daily interaction with the economic world and consequently, their lives' happiness.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

World Happy Day (via Huffington Post)

A dirt poor rickshaw puller in a slum in India once told me that he was the luckiest person alive. His hut was made out of bamboo sticks and plastic tarps, with raw sewage trickling out front, but still, Manoj Singh said he was happy, very happy, in fact. Though sometimes he only had only a few bowls of rice to feed his family, he said "I feel that I am not poor, but I am the richest person in the world."

How could this be? I have friends who can become unhappy by bad cell phone reception or a delayed flight.

For the past six years I have been working on a documentary film about happiness called Happy. The idea came from my friend Tom Shadyac, a filmmaker who had achieved great commercial success with hits like Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar and The Nutty Professor among others. Tom had read an article that compared countries in terms of happiness, and the gist was that while America is one of the richest countries, we are nowhere near the happiest. Tom knew quite well what it was like to have money but not be happy, as he had noticed how much happier his gardener and his housekeeper were than the millionaire movie stars and producers that he worked with every day. So Tom suggested we make a documentary exploring happiness, to discover its true causes.

If you want to know more about the Happy movie and the World Happy Day, please do it here: HappyMovieDay

Men, women – and machines (via Financial Times)

The rise of interconnected digital machines is threatening to change our economy in profound ways.

This month, we enter the season of Goodwill to All Men (and Women). But there is a bitter irony. What will actually make the world go round this holiday season is not simply the labour of real-life women and men – but the silent actions and communications of millions, if not zillions, of interconnected machines.

Think about it. If you travel this holiday via airports or train stations, you will invariably be clutching tickets with electronic barcodes, which will be waved at automatic turnstiles or check-in desks – which will duly send signals to other machines. If you buy a holiday gift or groceries, you will wave more barcodes – and probably swipe credit cards too; hence more silent electronic communication.

If you want to read this very interesting article about the impact of technology in the economy, please click here: TechnologyEconomy

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Could a family photo be the secret to doubling your saving? How our emotions affect money matters (via This is Money)

The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) has been set up to encourage Britons to save for retirement.

From October, large firms, will have to automatically enroll employees into a pension - they must actively opt out. It will later extend to all companies.
NEST is the not-for-profit scheme available to all employers and is at the forefront of trying to understand how to make people save more. Helen Dean, managing director of scheme development (pictured right), reveals some of the tricks of 'behavioural finance' .

Parents asked to set aside savings in an envelope labelled with a picture of their children saved at nearly double the rate of those parents whose envelopes didn’t have a picture of their kids, in a research experiment carried out in the US.
Having clear ‘pots of money’ in your head and attaching different feelings to those pots, is one aspect of how most people tend to deal with money.

If you have 5m, you can check the artcle here: FamilyPhotoSaving

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

‘MoodFood’: Happiness through food? (via Open Senses)

Foods and beverages have a major influence in our health and wellbeing. Historically they have been considered as medicines and many cultures have diverse beliefs regarding the beneficial effects of foods and beverages. Moreover, there are also traditional and religious aspects to be considered before taking a food or drink. Nowadays consumers know that a correct diet has to be varied and to provide all nutrients in a sufficient amount but not too much, to stay healthy and to prevent illness.

Interestingly, today, an innovative viewpoint is that foods and beverages, on top of being safe and healthy, they can also help to improve our mood.

Check here, a very interesting scientific approach to the issue: HappyFood

Monday, 16 January 2012

More Suffering Than Thriving in Some EU Countries (via Gallup)

More Europeans are "suffering" than "thriving" in several countries hard-hit by the financial crisis, including a number that have already introduced or are introducing austerity measures. More than one in five residents rate their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Latvia, and Portugal. The largest gap between thriving and suffering is in Bulgaria, where 45% are suffering and 5% are thriving.

Check it here: Thriving&Suffering

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Violinists Can’t Tell The Difference Between Stradivarius Violins And New Ones (via Brain for Business)

Professional violinists were asked to play new violins, and old ones by Stradivari and Guarneri. They couldn’t tell the difference between the two groups. One of the new violins even emerged as the most commonly preferred instrument.

The joy of owning and playing a Stradivarius comes not from any objective advantage in its sound, but simply from the knowledge that it is a Stradivarius.

Ever since the early 19th century, many tests have questioned the alleged superiority of the old Italian violins. Time and again, listeners have failed to distinguish between the sound of the old and new instruments. But critics have been quick to pick holes in these studies. In most cases, the listeners weren’t experts, and the players and researchers knew which violin was which – a flaw that could have biased the results.

If you want to know more about this study, and have a link to it: Stradivarius

Monday, 9 January 2012

Workers in Bad Jobs Have Worse Wellbeing Than Jobless (via Gallup)

American workers who are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace -- known as "actively disengaged" workers -- rate their lives more poorly than do those who are unemployed. Forty-two percent of actively disengaged workers are thriving in their lives, compared with 48% of the unemployed. At the other end of the spectrum are "engaged" employees -- American workers who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work -- 71% of whom are thriving.

You can check the Gallup result here: BadJobsWorseWellbeing

Sunday, 8 January 2012

ThereareFreeLunches & PsychologyToday

There are Free Lunches is now an official blog at the Psychology Today website. It part of the Behavioral Economics list and we already posted two texts. The second one was called "Self-Regulation: Consumer Non-Behavior " and has been chosen as an "Essential Read".

If you have 10m, you can check it here: EssentialRead

Thursday, 5 January 2012

OECD well-being indicators (via OECD)

How should one measure well-being? Money is not everything. There are many more features that shape people‟s lives. How comfortable is their housing? How clean and safe is their local environment? Are they able to participate in political and social activities? Do public institutions respond to their demands? To what extent do people benefit from quality health care and education services? What is the value of services produced by households for their own use, such as the care that they provide to their children and the elderly? All things considered, are people satisfied with their life in general?
In recent years, concerns have emerged regarding the fact that macro-economic statistics did not portray the right image of what ordinary people perceived about the state of their own lives. Addressing these concerns is crucial, not just for the credibility and accountability of public policies, but for the very functioning of our democracies.

If you want you can consult the document here: OECDwell-beingIndicators

New Idea For Sharing Urban Roads? Sidewalks Removed on Busy London Street Forces Drivers to Slow (via treehugger)

It's a revolutionary change in traffic thinking. Sidewalks have been eliminated on a newly reconstructed stretch of Exhibition Road, in downtown London. The busy thoroughfare has been changed from the traditional sidewalk-and-road arrangement into a continuous smooth surface that is shared by pedestrians, bikers and drivers.

There are no crosswalks, lane markings, sidewalks, curbs, signs or railings. What you see (above) is what you get: a long road with large black and white granite cross-hatching. It's a perfect place for a pedestrianized route because three huge museums and a university front onto it and there are 11.5 million visitors a year to the area.

The concept for this "shared space" derives from a Dutch traffic engineer, Hans Monderman. It is a different way of looking at roads: Shared space removes the traditional segregation of motor vehicles, pedestrians and other road users. All the usual roads signs and signs are replaced with an integrated, people-oriented way of looking at streets where walking, cycling, shopping and driving cars become integrated activities.

If you have 5 minutes, you can check everything here: SharingUrbanRoads

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ten Impressive Psychology Studies from 2011 (via Psychology Today)

A selection of great psych studies worth talking about

Trying to name the ten best psychology studies from any year is extremely hard for a couple of reasons: (1) What one person defines as the "best" will be different than another person's definition, and (2) So many excellent studies are conducted every year, choosing only ten is a fool's errand.

So instead of naming the best studies, what follows are ten studies that impressed me as the year rolled along, both for their intriguing topics and potential usefulness.

If you have 10m - 1 minute per study - you can check the 10 studies here: 10studies

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value (via SimoleonSense)

The real market vs the expectations market
In today’s paradoxical world of maximizing shareholder value, which Jack Welch himself has called “the dumbest idea in the world”, the situation is the reverse. CEOs and their top managers have massive incentives to focus most of their attentions on the expectations market, rather than the real job of running the company producing real products and services.

The “real market,” Martin explains, is the world in which factories are built, products are designed and produced, real products and services are bought and sold, revenues are earned, expenses are paid, and real dollars of profit show up on the bottom line. That is the world that executives control—at least to some extent.

The expectations market is the world in which shares in companies are traded between investors—in other words, the stock market. In this market, investors assess the real market activities of a company today and, on the basis of that assessment, form expectations as to how the company is likely to perform in the future. The consensus view of all investors and potential investors as to expectations of future performance shapes the stock price of the company.

If you have 10m, you can check this Paradigm Shifting perspective here: DumbestIdea