Acumen Presents: Dan Ariely on Changing Customer Behavior

How social entrepreneurs can harness the principles of behavioral change to reach more customers and create impact
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  • Lectures 35
  • Length 2 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 10/2016 English

Course Description

Many innovations deployed to solve social problems never reach their full potential. Sometimes they fail because people resist changing their behavior even when they know they should do things like stop smoking, show up to a job training course, start using solar power, take a daily pill, or wash their hands. Knowledge alone won’t cause them to make the switch. There are other motivations, other drivers, and other factors about how their environments are set up that need to be accounted for and potentially redesigned.

This is where social science research can inform the work of social entrepreneurs. In this course, Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University and the author of the New York Times bestseller Predictably Irrational, will help social entrepreneurs apply insights from behavioral economics and psychology to understand how people make decisions. His research shows that when people make small adjustments to their environment or their daily routines, they can generate new use patterns and trigger better decisions that improve health, education, financial wellbeing, environmental preservation and other forms of social good. 

By drilling down to specific behaviors that your customers need to perform to use your product or service in the intended way, you’ll uncover new opportunities to redesign elements of the experience or motivate people to take required steps. 

In addition to video tutorials from Dan, you'll also gain access to 4 Behavior Change Design Guides (totaling over 90 pages) that will include step-by-step exercises to apply these principles to your product, along with examples from other social enterprises. Once you start seeing these principles in everyday life, you won’t be able to resist redesigning elements of your own life and business to help you and the people around you.

What are the requirements?

  • There are no prerequisites for this course. Students will need a sense of self-motivation to actively complete course activities.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Map your customer’s behavior journey
  • Apply 6 Behavior Change principles to your social enterprise
  • Understand 5 Value and Pricing principles to understand how to price your product
  • Design experiments to test these principles in action

Who is the target audience?

  • Aspiring or active social entrepreneurs looking to design smarter products and services to achieve social impact
  • Anyone who wants to learn how to apply practical insights from behavioral economics and psychology to real-life businsesses

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to Behavior Change Design for Entrepreneurs

Dan Ariely will introduce you to the course and preview some of the key principles of behavior change that you will learn


Introduce yourself to others taking this course and share what you hope to learn.


Download this optional listening guide to keep track of key concepts and take notes as you watch the videos in Section 1.


This lecture will teach you how principles from social science can help entrepreneurs work more quickly and effectively to design products and services that people will love and use.


By completing this lecture, you'll learn how most people approach behavior change, but why this traditional approach is flawed.  You'll learn how to bring to use findings from social science to build products that help customers make smarter decisions.


In this lecture, Dan will help through you think through your customer journey, or all the steps that customers have to go through in order to effectively use your product or service.  You'll then begin to identify the motivations or thoughts that customers have at each stage of this journey.


In this lecture, Dan will introduce you to a fascinating study about generic vs. name-brand drugs and show you what this study can teach us about the importance of removing "bumps in the road" for our customers.


In this lecture, you'll learn how to begin reducing sources of friction for your customers so that their experiences and transactions with your product or service are as seamless as possible.  This should help your customers make smarter decisions and use your product more effectively.

3 questions

In this quiz, we'll give you several scenarios and ask you what approach you should NOT take to try and change people's behaviors.


In this Guide, you'll walk through exercises to map your Customer's Behavior Journey.

Section 2: Behavior Change Principles to Trigger Use of Your Product

Download this optional listening guide to help you keep track of key concepts for Section 2 and take notes.


In this lecture, Dan will introduce the concept of "choice architecture" and you'll learn why giving more choices to your customers can sometimes backfire.


This lecture will teach you to appreciate the power of the default option.  You'll learn how one country successfully used the "default option" to significantly increase a lifesaving resource.


In this lecture, Dan will show you what a study about jam options in the grocery store can teach you about how to help customers make easier decisions by giving them fewer choices.


In this lecture, you'll learn why it is is so painful to lose things and how you can harness the power of loss aversion to help people make better decisions.  You'll also learn why cues or triggers in the environment can be a key tool for prompting specific behaviors from customers.


Dan will introduce two studies about TV sales and retirement funds to help you see how aversion works in practice. 


Dan will help you understand why social desirability is such a potent force for motivating behavior change and help you harness social proof to show your customers how others are using your product or service.


This lecture will teach you to design instructions that help customers understand one concrete and understandable use case for your product so that customers are more likely to use it correctly.


This lecture will help you understand different ways to motivate customers, and how these different types of motivations can work together, or interfere with each other.


This lecture will teach you the importance of avoiding mixing market and social norms.


In this lecture, Dan will share a cautionary research study of a daycare center that mixed social and market norms--to unfortunate results.


In this lecture you'll identify why leaving contracts incomplete can actually be quite powerful and allow you to harness different types of motivation.

3 questions

We'll provide you real life examples of products from social enterprises. You'll identify the behavior change principle that they are applying.


In this Guide, you'll walk through exercises to apply 6 key behavior change principles to your product or service.

Section 3: Design a Product Customers Will Value and Pay For

Download this optional listening guide to help you keep track of key concepts for Section 3 and take notes.


This lecture will teach you how people typically perceive value. You'll learn to identify the factors other than functionality and utility that customers take into account when assessing a product or service.


This lecture will help you understand how customers judge products relative to others in the same or similar categories.


In this lecture, Dan will introduce you to the concept of "self-herding" and show how your previous decisions play a powerful role in your future decisions.  He'll use the example of Starbucks to show how one company masterfully situated itself in a different category--and got people to pay more for coffee.


In this lecture you'll learn why it hurts so much to part with money--and how you can leverage this principle to help people consume more of things that are good for them or less of something that is harmful.


In this lecture you'll learn why micropayments (also known as a Pay-As-You-Go) strategy might not always be the best way to get customers to pay for your product, even if you are dealing with customers on very limited incomes.


In this Guide, you'll learn to apply 5 Value and Pricing Principles to your product or service.

Section 4: How Entrepreneurs Can Design Behavior Change Experiments

In this lecture, Dan will teach you why entrepreneurs should design and run experiments, and how you can approach experimental design in cost-effective and efficient ways.


In this lecture, you'll learn about the critical factors that all experiments must incorporate in order to yield actionable data and insights for entrepreneurs.


In this lecture, you'll learn how to consider and account for the ethical considerations you should keep in mind when designing experiments to be run with real customers.


In this lecture, Dan will share his big picture view on why it is so critical to keep experimenting to build better and more effective products, services, and interventions.


Learn what Dan is uncovering about the most effective ways to get families in a slum in Kenya to invest their money and save for their futures.


In this Guide, you'll learn to design your own experiments to test behavior change principles in action.

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Instructor Biography

+Acumen Courses, Global Learning Community for Social Change-Makers

Acumen is a non-profit changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $88 million in 82 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia and was named one of Fast Company's Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies in 2015. We also run +Acumen, a global learning community for social change-makers. Be an effective force for change with Acumen's online courses and chapters.

Instructor Biography

Dan Ariely, Professor at Duke University and Bestselling Author

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of the bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.  His latest book--Payoff: the Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations--comes out in November 2017.

Through his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, Dan questions the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often all behave. His TED talks have been viewed over 4 million times and he publishes widely in the leading scholarly journals in economics, psychology, and business. His work has been featured in a variety of media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, Science and CNN. He splits his time between Durham NC and the rest of the world.

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