Evidence is not proof: it may not be universal

Even if you’ve nailed down causation, you still haven’t proven a ‘theory of everything’ as the evidence may not apply in a different context. The Marshmallow Studies showed that kids who resist eating a marshmallow do better in life. But they focused on Stanford University children. Kids of less wealthy backgrounds may be better off eating whatever food is available, since it may not be there tomorrow.

Does board diversity really improve environmental performance?

Does board diversity really improve environmental performance?

My LinkedIn feed came alive with this post: Francesca Gino is the Harvard Business School professor accused of faking data in her research. HBS is conducting an investigation into the matter and I am reserving judgement until its outcome; this post is on something completely different. My ...
Does social purpose drive profit?

Does social purpose drive profit?

Someone thoughtfully sent me a Harvard Business Review article, ‘How Your Company's Social Purpose Can Also Drive Profit’, thinking I’d like it given my book Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit, gives a similar message. My confirmation bias led me to want to lap up the evidence uncritically, but unfortunately it’s extremely weak, even for HBR's standards. (I have written for HBR many times and it has many ...
Experimenting on WEIRD people

Experimenting on WEIRD people

One of my research fields in behavioural economics, which suggests that people don’t always act in perfectly rational ways. A famous experiment in this field is known as the Ultimatum Game. There are two players, a ‘proposer’ whom we’ll call Amelia, and a ‘responder’, Bilal.
The Marshmallow Study revisited

The Marshmallow Study revisited

One of the most famous psychology experiments conducted on children is the Marshmallow Study. In a 1972 paper, Walter Mischel and co-authors gave three-to-five-year-olds at the Stanford Bing Nursery School a marshmallow. They could eat it now, but if they waited 15 minutes, they’d get a second marshmallow.