Dan Ariely

Simon & Schuster

Each new year brings with it resolutions and to-do lists. They are easy enough to make, but how do we stay motivated to actually do them? It is a topic behavioral economist Dan Ariely tackles in his new book, "Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations" (Ted Books/2016). Ariely is the author of bestselling books about behavioral economics, a Duke professor, and the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight in Durham. 

Jeanmarie Schubach

As the new year approaches, “The State of Things” takes a moment to reflect on the highlights of 2015 with the program’s producers.

Some of producer Will Michaels’ favorite segments include conversations with behavioral economist Dan Ariely and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). 

He also chose segments with Dudley Flood, the man who helped to desegregate every one of the state’s public schools and the story of Robert Brown who was a human bridge between corporate America and the civil rights movement. 

Dan Ariely is a world renowned behavioral economist at Duke University.
nrkbeta / Flickr Creative Commons

Dan Ariely credits his career to an accident that left him in a hospital bed for three years.

At age 17, Ariely suffered from third degree burns on most of his body after a chemical explosion.

It was his inability to move for long periods of time that allowed him to observe the nuances of human behavior.

Dan Ariely / Duke Photography

Dan Ariely works in contradictions. He studies behavioral economics and points out that humans are logical but irrational beings.

How do we assign monetary value to a thought or an idea? How do we decide when a lie is more valuable than the truth? Are we really in control of the decisions we make on a daily basis?

At the crossroads of psychology and economics, Ariely has made it his life’s work to study the idea that some of our best intentions can lead to our most irrational behavior.