Transcript: Interview with Daniel Pink from Episode 037

This is the interview with Daniel Pink from episode 037 of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast.


screen-shot-2014-11-24-at-12-39-50-pmDaniel Pink is the author of the book “Drive” and the host of the new National Geographic show “Crowd Control.” In Drive, Pink writes about how many businesses and institutions depend on folklore instead of science to encourage people to come to work and be creative. He explains that the greatest incentives, once people are paid a decent wage, are autonomy, mastery, and purpose – intrinsic rewards that workplaces can easily offer if they choose to change the way they incentivize employees. In Crowd Control, Pink explores how, by paying attention to what science tells us truly motivates people, we can change the way we do things from giving out speeding tickets to managing baggage claims at airports so that we alter people’s behavior for the benefit of everyone. In the interview Pink details what he’s learned from both projects when it comes to what truly motivates us.

David:     I – yeah I’m sorry I have a cold, so I sound like I’m a – I should announce for movies. In a world–

Daniel:     Yeah no, wow, it’s– Yeah, I expect swirling music to come up behind you.

David:     In a world where experts on behavior discuss motivation. So yeah, I apologize for that, it’s going to sound like I’m affecting something, but that’s just, that’s just nasty vocal chords right there. First of all, thank you so much for being here. I love your work, I love your books and I love that you have this new show that’s about to premiere on National Geographic. So really thank you so much for being on the show.

Daniel:     Well thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks. I appreciate, I appreciate the kind words.

David:     You know I–

Daniel:     I mean, your listeners don’t know the secret conversations we have off air. But right before we came on live to millions, or semi-live to millions – I was talking about how much I like your stuff, particularly the book version of a blog, which I think is – I mean, if I were teaching psychology I would use that in my course.

David:     Oh man, thank you. And you know what’s crazy, is that the blog is– I mean your work, I remember watching your stuff around the time that I was doing the blog. And I was like, “Oh that’s exactly what’s happening right here.” Because I had a job. I was a journalist, I was an editor. I was working in the business, and so I already had an income, but I then chose to spend all my free time making this blog, because that was really what I wanted to do.

Daniel:     Right.

David:     And now this is happening, so that’s a – it’s such a fulfillment of what you write about, I love it.

Daniel:     Great, yeah. I mean that’s – I mean truly, not to turn this into an echo chamber, rather than a podcast. But that was basically my story, too. I started out years and years ago working in politics and lot of stuff – including as a political speechwriter. And when I realized – the moment I realized I had to– Or one of the moments that I realized that I had to leave that world, was that – I was like working late at night writing magazine stories about business and behavior for no money. And I was like, “Huh, maybe this is what I should be doing?”

David:     We’re so we’re so fortunate that we found that in the post internet, post everyone knows how to use the internet world – so that you can go, you can step right into that into that – into a marketplace for this kind of stuff.

Daniel:     True. Yeah, true. That’s very true.

David:     I often wonder what I would have been like if it had been 10 years ago, or 15 years ago – and it probably just would have been me at the copier, making pamphlets and handing them out to people and saying–

Daniel:     Or maybe, or maybe you would’ve been another in a long line of disgruntled semi-alcoholic editors.

David:     That was my destiny, that was totally my destiny. I want to know about the show, “Crowd Control”.

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     I’ve seen one episode, and it was awesome. I loved it. And it’s just my kind of show. I mean like it’s a – it’s the kind of show, you’re like, “Why don’t they make more shows like this?” Could you describe the premise of it?

Daniel:     Yeah, so what we do is we take problems that are out there in the world. We did kind of some big stuff, like you saw in the first episode. We took on the problem of speeding. That’s a real problem, with real life and death consequences. We took on the problem of airline safety, believe it or not. So we take on big problems, but we also take on small problems. Things like kids peeing in swimming pools, and people double dipping guacamole. And then we use behavioral science – and along with some design and technology – come up with a solution, put it in place in the real world. Turn our cameras on and see what happens. And so, over the course of this first season we’ve done – 45 I think is the final number? 45 of these kinds of behavior experiments all over the country. To try to come up with solutions to the things that endanger us but also make us a little bit miffed.

David:     How do you -if you can say – how do you stop people from double dipping guacamole?

Daniel:     Oh. Well we came up– Okay so, you’ll love this, you’ll like this–

David:     I’m going to use this tomorrow, okay?

Daniel:     Okay so – so I’ll give you– Because I know your listeners can handle it, the very complex behavioral theory that under guards the intervention. And it’s basically this – we behave differently in private than in public. And so, you can sometimes get people– When we know other people are watching us, we will behave a little bit differently. So there’s some great – I’m going to go off on a tangent here and I’ll steer it back to the point–

David:     Oh yeah, please, please.

Daniel:     We did another thing in a food court in New Jersey, where there was a problem where people didn’t return their lunch trays. And there’s some great research out of the University of Newcastle in the UK – that showed that simply having a pair of eyes in somebody’s midst– Kind of simulates the feeling of being watched, and actually improves people’s behavior. So that’s sort of the phenomenon that we’re going there. When people feel like they’re in public, they behave differently and actually – usually – more ethically, more nobly. Than they do if they’re behind closed doors, picking their nose and downloading internet pornography. So the solution – that’s the theory underneath it. So what we did, and here’s where we got a little bit tricky. We put out kind of a quasi-casting call, and said, “We’re doing a new show on dating.” And so we invited a bunch of people to do this new show – dating show on TV. So we invited them in, and there was a little reception out there with food – guacamole, and chips, and salsa, and chips, and vegetables, and dip and whatnot. And then we monitored to see if indeed people were double dipping, and they were to my horror. They were. There was a significant amount of double dipping going on. So the question is – how can we stop that? And what we came up with was again, built on this theory of public versus private behavior is very simple solution. What we did is this, we created – we had two bowls of guacamole, and we created 2 different signs. Next to the first bowl, we had a sign that said “Single Dippers.” Next to the second bowl, we had a sign that said “Double Dippers.” And low and behold, everybody went to the single dippers. We basically eliminated double dipping with that simple little mind trick.
David:     That is fantastic. It reminds me of – on the episode that I saw you, you stopped people from parking in disabled parking places by just putting a sign up that says, “Please don’t do this.” And had a people or person who had actually used that.

Daniel:     Oh yeah that was – I mean but that one is– The double dipping one is fun, it illustrates a point. I’m hoping to see, I’ll know that we’ve done good for the world if people have single dipper and double dipper signs at the Super Bowl party. But that one – disabled parking – is actually– That’s a really, really good one. That’s like good in the sense of effective, good in the sense of helpful to the world. What we did there was, we looked at the problem of people parking in disabled spaces. Which when I went down there, we did this in Austin, Texas. When I went down there I said, “Who does– Nobody does that?” I never parked in a disabled spot. I mean it’s like “Oh my God.” So I went down, they say, “Okay, first we’re going to drive around and try to find people parking in disabled spots.” And I said “Oh my God, I’m going to be driving around the parking lots of Austin for days.” 10 minutes in we find someone parked in a disabled spot. It’s unbelievable how often this occurs. And so our solution in this case was to – as you say, to change the signs. We had to actually add a new sign to the existing sign. The existing sign had the very famous logo of someone in a wheelchair and the classic blue color. But beneath it, we had a sign that said “Think of me. Keep it free,” and it had a photograph, as you say, of someone from the Austin area who was in a wheelchair. And that, I mean that eliminated parking in disabled spots.

David:     It’s went to zero.

Daniel:     Yeah, it was amazing and then we– We didn’t have permission to keep them up all the time. We don’t have this in the show but when the signs were removed 2 days later, they had a violation. And what this, what this sign did though– Which I think – it’s a little bit more substantive and serious than the guacamole one. Is that it triggered some degree of– I think it did 2 things, 1 – it triggered some degree of empathy on the part of the potential violator. The other thing that it did which I don’t think that we do enough of in public spaces is that it explained why you have, why we have the rule. And it, that it actually that actually had a pretty big effect, and so much so that there now – based on just the word of this getting out – there are now, it’s totally cool. Like several cities in Texas that want to roll this out in their disabled parking spaces.

David:     That’s, that’s fantastic and, it’s so strange – it’s like– The solution beforehand was always punitive. It was always just give people tickets or fine them lots of money. And you show in the same episode that that’s how we handle speeders, that we just give out millions and millions of tickets.

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     And there’s just, in the show you solve that problem by instead of being punitive being – you reward a different kind of behavior. Could you sort of explain what you did there?

Daniel:     Yeah, yeah we– This is an interesting one. We actually did in this, in the first episode, we take on speeding. We did– We took it on again in another episode in a really cool way as well. But here we said, “Okay, what if we just flip things?” There are always fines for doing bad, what if we give people a reward for doing good?” So in the first iteration of it – we had this amazing team of people working on the show, I mean there was just, we were really fortunate to work with such a great crew. And what we did, we started– We had this little speed gun, and we would at a certain stretch of road in New Orleans, if we saw people– We had fines and we saw people driving the speed limit we said “Congratulations you’re driving the speed limit” and we waived them down and gave them $10. That doesn’t scale well. And some people sped by us, because they thought they were about to get ripped off. But, what we ended up doing which is an idea that has been used somewhere in Europe. Is we created this thing, we created a lottery – we created something called a speed camera lottery. And so people could register for it, and then on a certain day – we put up the typical kind of speed camera. The camera connected to a – something to track their miles per hour, and displayed it on a screen. We’ve all seen those kinds of things. And if you were driving the speed limit or under, it took a picture of your license plate. And then everybody who was following the rules got their name thrown into a hat – and we randomly selected someone to win 100 bucks. And so what we try to do is flip things – instead of rewarding– Instead of punishing bad behavior, we offered a reward for good behavior. And that worked pretty well, I mean we really got people to slow down. There’s some question about whether– I don’t know what they did a mile later–

David:     Right, right.

Daniel:     But again, what we’re trying to do and this is sort of key – is that – we go through– Yeah, I mean you’ve written about this as well, I mean it’s sort of laces… We use these shortcuts or heuristics to get our way through life, that are often erroneous, and we just kind of go through life oblivious to our surroundings. And what we try to do is kind of wake people up, surprise them, shock them – and try to change their default behaviors for the better.

David:     And neither one of those problems – like you did jaywalking, the parking thing the, speeding. These aren’t really trivial problems, especially like the speeding and jaywalking. You say in the show that 13 000 people a year die, just from speeding accidents and 6000 people–

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     6000 people die every year from jaywalking, that’s way bigger number than I would’ve expected. And it seems like the idea behind the show is to do something that I – I have harped on forever on it. You have as well, and so many other people who have written about this do too. Is that there’s all this information, there’s all this evidence in the social sciences, and behavioral sciences. And all that evidence out there is ready to be used in the real world to solve lots of everyday problems – or solve inconveniences. Why do you think it is that so much of what we’ve learned in social sciences is taking so long to make its way into policies and procedures and management and stuff like that?

Daniel:     Yeah, it’s a great question, I’m not sure. I think– I think there are a couple of reasons. Number one is that a lot of – not all – but a lot of scientists, whether they are social scientists or whether they are physical scientists. Spend most of their time talking to each other, most of the time talking to specialists. And as a result they end up with their own kind of specialized lingo that regular people can’t understand. And there’s a certain narrowness that gets fostered there. That’s something I’ve seen as a journalist. I love talking in academics, I love talking academics. They’re just so into what they do. But one of the things you find is that – the psychologists don’t talk to the economists, okay? And the economists certainly don’t talk to the chemist – God forbid, that’s way too far. But even like this – both of them are studying behavior. Social psychologists are studying behavior. Economists are studying behavior. But they rarely talk to each other. But even if you go into the psychology department, you’ll find that the social psychologists don’t talk to the developmental psychologists. And so it’s very siloed and very specialized. And they have this really great material. Is not getting out into– I think because of the structure of academe. At academy, it’s not getting out into the wider world. The other reason I think, is that – that’s one reason. Another reason would be that some of what these researchers are finding goes against our intuitions. About how we think the world works, and we don’t like to have those intuitions disrupted – and we find it very unsettling. And the third thing is that again we– We – so much of our behavior is basically on an autopilot setting that it’s actually pretty hard to change behavior.

David:     Yeah, and I find that one thing that comes up so often, and you write about this a lot in your book, “Drive.” Is that a lot of what we think is– Like you might think as a new employee, fresh out of college that you’re working for a company that has a lot of smart people that have been doing this for a long time. That surely they’re basing their policies on something that–?

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     That has been tested and is–

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     And it works and it turns out that many times it’s just folklore, that’s the word you use, and I love it, that’s–

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     That’s a good word to pick out – not the status quo, it’s folklore.

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     It’s just – no one has taken a second to go, “Wait a second, is the right way to do this, or not?”

Daniel:     Right.

Daniel:     And as you say a lot of times – not always. A lot of times, the answers – or at least hints about the answers are out there.

David:     Yeah, yeah. It’s a new skill that you need, is the– Is to be able to Google properly, so that you– If you want, if you believe something – you can find evidence for it on the internet there’s, no problem doing that.

Daniel: Right.

David:     You need–

Daniel:     Right, right, right.

David:     You need the ability to judge evidence and decide what has the consensus and so on and so on. And surprisingly, no one’s even taken that first step, even– In your book, like in, “Drive,” you talk about– Like, I mean you’ve spent decades studying this, writing about it, giving lectures on it – motivation. And what’s great I think is – audiences are really eager to have you around, and they want to hear what you have to say. Because I think everyone who is not in management knows that management is wrong a whole lot of the time.

Daniel:     Absolutely

David:     But – and a lot of it is because we built our workplaces around incentives and punishments – or as you say “carrots and sticks.” One of your major messages is that science has been telling us for decades that that’s not a really – a great way to manage human beings, not in every situation. Could you sort of elaborate on why that is?

Daniel:     Yeah, sure thing, yeah, the– I mean, it’s a fairly straightforward principle. And again, it comes directly out of – half a century of research in the behavioral sciences and basically this. So you think about what I call– And there’s some nuance here. Sometimes people look at this and say “Oh, money doesn’t matter.” – that’s not true. Here’s a way to look at it. There’s a certain kind of reward that we rely on in organizations, schools – even in public policy. And psychologists call it a controlling contingent reward, I call it an if then reward – if you do this then you get that. Here’s what the research shows pretty clearly – if then rewards are really effective for very simple things with short time horizons. They work really well. We love rewards, they get our attention, they get our attention in a very narrow focused way, so if you want people do something really simple, straightforward – follow a recipe with a very short time horizon. Then if then rewards are going to work pretty well. However, if you want people to do something that requires more judgment more discernment, more creative thinking, more conceptual thinking. If you want it to work over a much– Over a longer time horizon, if then rewards just aren’t very good. And the reasons the same, it’s because we love rewards so much – they get us to focus – in a narrow way. But if dealing with a complicated problem, a creative problem, an ambiguous problem – if you’re not sure what exactly you want to create -you need to have a very expansive view. And those if then rewards, by their very nature, narrow. And so they’re often counterproductive. And so, it’s not like one should never use carrots and sticks or if then rewards – you just should use them where they demonstrably work. And that’s for simple short term tasks. The trouble is, is that a lot of our work – that more of us do every day, now that software and robots and Bulgarians are doing the simpler kind of work. Is that it is more creative, it is more conceptual. It does require more judgment. It is a little more ambiguous, and so we have this set of motivators that are pretty good for 19th century work, not bad for 20th century work – but that have largely outlived their usefulness for 21st century work.

David:     I bet a lot of people listening to this right now, they go into work. They maybe they go into a cubicle, they sit there for 8 hours a day – and they know they don’t actually need to be going into that building and sitting through all those meetings. Why do you think it is, that so few employers seem to have heard this message, and are willing to allow the people, allow people to work in that self-directed way?

Daniel:     Yeah, I think it’s a bunch of reasons. I mean one of them is – again – the, this more controlling way. It does work for certain kinds of things. It does work for a sliver of– Well maybe not even a sliver, I mean sort of a large sliver of things that people do on the job. This, and I think the second reason would be that– Again, it goes back to inertia and default. It’s what we’ve always done. And one of the things, I mean, it’s a frustrating aspect of human nature. I mean I was frustrated, at times, on the show where we went out into the wilds of human behavior. And basically people are just behaving– I mean it’s as simple this, if I do something one way on a Wednesday, chances are nearly 100% I’m going to do it the same way on Thursday. Not because it’s smart or the right thing to do but because that’s the way I do it. And so we’re creatures of habit, we rely on these default behaviors. Then – that’s another reason. I think the third reason probably is – I guess – a little bit more cynical. Which is that – in organizations especially, these kinds of, “If you do this, then you get that,” rewards and punishments. They’re really easy, they’re really easy. And if you really want people to be motivated, you have to come up with – you have to try, you have to do things that are a little harder, a little more complicated. Where you have to break a sweat as a manager, and so people will often rely on what’s easy rather than what’s effective.

David:     Now, I want to– Before we have to part ways, I really want people who may have never heard your fantastic lectures -and please do if you’re listening to this, check out the RSA Animate, or the Ted Talk. They’re both really great stuff. You talk about this MIT study, that when you rewarded the high– When you tiered people and you rewarded high performers?

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     It did something horrible, and something that I totally would not have– I first learned about it from you, and ever since then I have been blown away by this fact. Could you sort of go into detail about what happens when you reward high performers in certain situations?

Daniel:     Well, in certain situations, and this is really key. And it’s – certain situations, and it’s certain kind of reward. So this is, this was this was something where they gave people a series of– This is actually, it’s a set of 9 experiments in all, It was done in Cambridge Massachusetts where MIT is. It was done also in Mathura, India. With a group of 4 researchers, one of whom left MIT – is now at Duke. And what they did is, that they had people do a series of challenges. So there were some physical things, like throwing a ball through a hoop. There were some cognitive things like, say, alphabetizing something quickly. And the more challenging cognitive things like, the kind of ideation exercises. And they divided people into 3 groups. And the only thing that was different about the groups was the amount of reward that was promised to them. So one group it’s like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. One group got the – was offered a small reward for high performance. The other group was offered a medium reward for high performance. And the third group was offered a large reward for high performance. Okay? So we expected that the group offered the larger reward would do the best. And that’s what happened when it was the very simple, very simple things – that didn’t require any kind of judgment or creativity. The higher the reward, the better the performance. But once the task called for – once a task reached just slightly beyond basic level of cognitive skill. Where you had to use your brain in a slight, slightly more creative way, a large reward led to poorer performance. It was exactly upside down. And I think what’s interesting about that particular study is that – it goes back to what you’re saying before. Like we’ve known this for a while. Like, I mean, if you and I were graduate students in social psychology and we said “I want to do my dissertation on the um, the um, the deleterious effects of if then rewards on conceptually challenging behavior.” You’re dissertation adviser would say, “Ah, we already know that. We’ve already done that. You’re not going to get a PhD doing that because we already know that.” It would be like getting a PhD in physics saying, “I think I have this theory called gravity about why things don’t float in space.”

David:     Right. Like, I’m sorry, it’s already settled. We know this. And yet, what’s so frustrating is that it hasn’t migrated into the rest of the non-academic world. Because of– I mean truly, I mean, a lot of the cognitive biases that you’ve written about. So if we’ve seen somebody who, if we see somebody who, um, is good at his or her work, and has earned a lot of money, we assume that the reason that they’re good at their work is because they were offered a lot of money. Yeah that’s not necessarily the case.

Daniel:     No, um and I was looking at your– Well I watched one of your lectures yesterday to refresh my memory and I looked on– I have a plug-in on my computer -lets me see comments on reddit underneath videos. And there’s a guy on there, like – he, this is like a recent comment where he was like, “I don’t understand why my boss doesn’t– Makes me check in for every little thing I do. Like if I get the work too soon, I get punished. If I go, if I leave–”

David:     Oh my God.

Daniel:     “If I leave work too early, if I– My lunch, my break, everything has to be clocked in.” He’s like,“I totally like my job, I would work in the way that this guy talks about if they would let me do it.”

David:     Yeah. And that’s amazing to me. And it really does illustrate that– I did an episode a while back about science communicators and how it’s very important that we have them in this world.

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     And you know, it’s important that they’re very good. They’re not the kind of people who sensationalize things, and don’t understand what they’re talking about. But it’s very important to have people who take the shovel and dig in in academia – and dump it out into your every day daily lives. So that the people who are running the show can use these things. And before, I’ll get get back – I want to get back to the show. But I do want to lay mention – the meat of this – the discovery is that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are really the things that we should be shooting for. If you could just sort of like give us the–?

Daniel:     Yeah, yeah.

David:     Overview?

Daniel:     So yeah, yeah so that’s the– Yeah, so it’s a great que– So that’s so– If you  look at the research, what it shows is that these contingent rewards are good for some things – not so good for other things. And those other things are basically what a lot of people do on the job. So how do you do it better? And if you look there, you go back to the science and understand it pretty well. It starts with paying people enough. You’ve got to pay people fairly. If – human beings are obsessed with notions of fairness, so if you and I are doing – sitting side by side in the cubicle, doing the same kind of work with the same level of contribution, same level of experience. And I find that you are getting paid 25% more than I am, I’m demotivated – because it’s it’s not fair. So you’ve got to pay people fairly. There’s a little bit of a paradox – that for more creative kind of work, one of the best uses of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the work– Off the table. That is, what you want to do in many cases. If you’re doing very routine, algorithmic kind of work – so you are stuffing envelopes. Pay people for envelopes, raise the salience of money. Make them think about a dollar, or like – we’re not going to pay people a dollar an envelope. But think about the dime they’re going to get every envelope. And they’ll stuff a lot of envelopes for you, because it’s not cognitively challenging, and it doesn’t require a lot of creativity. But for people to do work that requires a greater degree of sophistication – where they have to use their judgment. Where they have to come up with creative solutions, where there isn’t an algorithm that they just follow. You want people thinking about the work. And one way to have them think about the work, is have them not think about the money. So pay people enough pay people enough. Once you do that, as you say, it turns out there are 3 core motivators for enduring performance. They are – autonomy, which is– We we’re talking about before. Which is essentially self-direction. Do you have some control, some sovereignty over what you do, how you do it, when you do it, who you do it with? The second one is mastery, that is – are you getting better at something that matters? Are you making progress at something meaningful? And the third one is purpose. Do you know, like, why you’re doing what you’re doing? Does what you’re doing make a contribution? Does it have some kind of impact – even a tiny impact on something? And so, it turns out that for most work – certainly most people, the majority, the vast majority of people who would listen to a podcast. The better recipe for sustained and enduring motivation is to pay people enough, pay people well, pay people enough. And then let them do what they need to do, help them get better at something that matters, and make sure they’re plugged into some kind of purpose. That work’s a lot better.

David:     It’s definitely so, and it feels so obvious. Look, if this is resonating with any of you, if this is like– You’re like “Oh man this is what I’ve always thought, why don’t people know this?” Definitely get this book, “Drive,” it is an important book. And buy one for your boss and sneak it, sneak it – just put it on the desk.

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     Surreptitiously in the night, put it on the desk and walk away. So what’s–? I love that you’ve been given this opportunity to take this sort of, this thinking of how to motivate people – and to get people to do things in their best interest, and to change the world for the better – and to make it less annoying. And I love that you’ve been given the opportunity to put this on television. And one of the things in the materials that I was handed. I looked at it, and I was like, “Oh that is going to be great. Because I’ve been to a lot of Mardi Gras. I live very close to new Orleans. Apparently you’ve come up with some way to get people to clean the streets for no money? What did you do?

Daniel:     Yeah, so we decided to– Ok, so one of the things that we– So much of what we’re doing is we’re trying to – as I keep saying – to change people’s default behaviors. And it’s even harder to do when people are completely wasted – as everybody is on Bourbon Street, I’ve discovered.

David:     Right.

Daniel:     In a really horrific way. So what we did – so there’s a big problem there on Bourbon Street. And the trash, even though there’s a trash can on every corner– I mean it’s amazing, people just toss the stuff on the side of the road, or the side of the street. And there’s this whole, there’s also this whole social norm thing going on that – we’re much more likely to litter in places that’re already littered. And so if there’s a little bit of litter, then it can cascade. And so people say “Oh it’s fine to litter here.” So what we tried to do is bring the litter down to a reasonable level, a very low level, so that would discourage subsequent littering. And what we did is, we used a little bit of– We used a little bit of, of fun and games. What we did is we constructed this giant trivia trash machine. And so and plopped it right in the middle of the street, and it gave people a trivia question. And they had to answer A, B, or C – and when they put their trash into, if they put their trash into the right hole, hole A, hole B, or hole C – they could see whether they got the answer right. And then, we upped the game a little bit – and gave out prizes, again, on the theory that– For short – simple, short term behavior, which is basically pretty simple to take your 1500 milliliter long bottle of sugared alcohol that you’ve that you’ve downed, and toss it in the garbage can, that’s pretty simple in short term. And so we, if they got the question right, they got a ticket and they could– If they got enough tickets, they could trade it in for a cap that said “I got trashed on Bourbon Street.” And it worked pretty well. And as you say, what happened was is that – in order – you had to get enough tickets in order to get the free cap. And so we had people going around looking for extra trash and picking it up themselves in order to answer more questions to get more tickets. Again, that’s one instance that shows the power of some of these if then rewards – is it really narrows people’s field of vision. All we wanted them to do was just something really simple. Throw out the trash, throw out the trash – and it worked pretty well.

We had another instance where we rewrote– Where these kinds of rewards backfired. We went to a facility down in Florida that was training airline flight attendants. And so we went into this giant simulator where they trained flight attendants. And we experimented with different ways to reconfigure the in-flight safety instructions. And in one instance we had– We said, “Here are the in flight, here are the instructions. Please pay attention, ’cause there’s going to be a quiz, and whoever gets everything right on the quiz is going to be entered into a drawing for $100 – something like that. And then we simulated a crash and got people out – tried to get people out. And what happened there is, that it didn’t work very well. Because what happened is people were so focused on the prize and getting the answer right that they weren’t really thinking about the instructions. They were just thinking about, “How do I get money?” And so this thing, it’s little bit more cognitively complex. “Here’s a set of instructions about how to evacuate an airplane. This is what I do in this situation. This is what I do in that situation.” Remembering something with a degree of sophistication and intricacy. They we’re able to do it over the short term to get the answers right on the quiz. But literally, I mean, literally like 45 minutes later when we simulated a crash, they had no idea what to do. Meanwhile, when we rewrote safety instructions, to explain why you put your tray table up, why you put your bag underneath the seat in front of you – and explained the consequences for not doing that in somewhat garish ways. We had incredible retention and a very, very successful evacuation.

David:     That is so awesome. I hope, I love – this is great this show is going to be on national television, it’s going to out to millions of people. I hope it like, really helps change the world for real and like– And gives, at least – gives people the opportunity to understand that behavior is malleable, that crowds are malleable, that people– We, things aren’t just the way they are – we don’t have to depend on all that folklore like we were talking about earlier.

Daniel:     Right, right.

David:     So I hope it has that greater change, it premiers November 24th on National Geographic channel. And I think it’s going to do really well and I think it’s–

Daniel:     I hope so, thanks, yeah. 9 PM Eastern, and again at 9 PM Pacific, 9 PM Pacific, so if – for all– If you’re Monday football fan, watch anyway. Because nothing happens – nothing happens in the first quarter anyways.

David:     Right, I think people are going to be interested in all the stuff that you do.. Your books, your lectures, this TV show. If people wanted to keep up with the empire of Daniel Pink–

Daniel:     Yeah.

David:     How would they do that?

Daniel:     Well a monumental task that is. They would have to do something very complicated like go to or follow me on twitter at @danielpink.

David:     All right, well look – thank you so much for coming on, I really hope that you have great success with this.

Daniel:     Thank so much, I’ve really enjoyed the conversation.