I’ve never heard of them before, but apparently these guys offer stats courses on crisply defined domains. Each course costs a small amount of money, and lasts for four weeks. So completing one of them may be a good idea if you want to know about one specific area, rendering full-semester MOOCs somewhat useless.
Cost Transparency Increases Purchase Intention
Bhavya Mohan, from Harvard Business School, showed in their group’s experiments that – at least currently – a company can increase customers’ willingness to buy in an online store by providing information on the product’s costs.
Emotional-Motivational Responses Predicting Choices
Outi Somervuori, a colleague of mine from Aalto University, showed that negative emotions and frontal lobe asymmetry predict the endowment effect.
My Own Talk
My own presentation (available here) was about using a linear value function model to predict choices when choosing student apartments. As it turns out, whether a subject is consistent with a linear value function had very limited impact on how well the model can predict choices – meaning that assuming a linear value function is an ok starting point for a model.
These guys have a fantastic, completely free SIPmath standard for communicating uncertainty between Excel and different pieces of software. It for example enables easy calculations with distributions in native Excel, something that’s notoriously difficult. For example, in the screenshot I’ve just calculated U+U, U*U, and U^cos(U) with a sample of 10 000 for the uniform distribution. I think this system is nifty enough to maybe warrant a full post in the future.
Larry Neal told about his personal experience on how business and life decisions differ. A decision analyst at Chevron (one of the most decision analysis –friendly companies out there), he faced cancer a few years ago, and ended up helping several other patients to analyze and decide on their treatment. He concluded that DA in personal decisions is much harder, because the goals are more ambiguous and the situation much more complex. Moreover, in his view our behavior is heavily influenced by cultural assumptions, and it is often impossible to recognize them yourself – but that’s exactly something as an analyst he was able to help with.
A panel by four professors from Stanford, MIT and Columbia was talking about MOOCs. Their response was very favorable. They all agreed that the traditional way of teaching with a professor speaking and the students listening is not adequate. MOOCs can be used to deliver value to a large audience, and even though the completion rate is low (less than 10 %), they still reach thousands of students per course.
Teaching Decision Analysis
There has been several amazing sessions about Decision Analysis. I just came back from a session about teaching and the legacy of Ron Howard, one of the giants of DA. It was certainly very inspiring and there were some good points about how DA teaching need to stay connected to the actual practice of decision making. After all, we don’t want to produce just new researchers who produce papers – the point of research is to impact the world in a larger way.
Well, that's a summary of the past couple of very exciting days! I'll be back on track with more decision making thoughts next week.