Happy Halloween, everyone.
Dean Karlan lives in New Haven, Connecticut. He gets a lot of trick-or-treaters in his neighborhood: “Residents say the area’s popularity is because the houses are so close together, minimizing the door-to-door travel time for trick-or-treaters.”
Dr. Karlan is also a behavioral economist. So why not combine the two and do science experiments on children?
Last year’s study found that 38% of kids 9 and older who saw a poster of First Lady Michelle Obama chose fruit instead of candy — twice as many as those who made that choice after seeing Ann Romney, wife of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The study indicated that the first lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, promoting healthy living for children, appeared to be reaching its target audience.
In other experiments, Karlan has found that the more generic the costume is, the more likely it is that the child will choose a see-through bag with candy in it over a non-transparent bag. Karlan has also found that…
I’d like to see a follow-up to this experiment where children get equal amounts of candy, but those who identify as Democrats have more of their candy confiscated by the researchers.
This year, the study aims to test whether some children are inherently planners — whether they planned their costume ahead of time or procrastinated until the last minute, and whether they have a plan for how they will eat their candy. They’ll weigh their answers against whether kids choose fruit or give into the easy temptation of candy.
One more thing I’d like to know: why isn’t Dubner interviewing Karlan, instead of doing a re-run this week? With all due respect, guys, it seems like you’ve been doing a lot of re-runs recently, and that doesn’t really motivate me to give you money.
(This also reminds me that my youngest niece has gotten to the age where I can start doing science experiments
on with her. She’s still a little young for the economics based ones, though.)