Economics is not just about money, says author and economics professor Tyler Cowen. It's also about human decision making. Gayle talks to Tyler about using economics to make better decisions in all areas of life, the subject of his book Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist.
If you are looking for a better experience at the dentist's office, Tyler says that you should bring the dentist a gift or tell him or her you are a lawyer. It may sound like a silly thing to do, but Tyler says that making your dentist like or respect you is a way to put economic incentives to work for you. "It is a necessary part of the dental experience that it hurts and you want them to try as hard a possible to do as good a job as possible," he says.
When it comes to love, Tyler says that many people are with someone who is not right for them. He says that instead of painting a glossy exterior of your relationship so that you feel you made the right choice, you should take a critical look at your love life. "One of the key mistakes we make in life is we want to feel good about ourselves rather than making the right decisions," Tyler says. "We will throw out valuable information about job offers, about potential partners, about opportunities, just so we can feel that we are in control and we are in a safe place and that is very often a mistake."
In the workplace, Tyler says that many people spend too much time in meetings. The next time you want to make your meeting shorter, Tyler says you should ask everyone to stand up until the meeting is over, or have every meeting over the phone. "Even if you are all in the same hallway, don't gather," he says. "Send everyone to their telephone and have a conference call. It is harder for people to interject little bits of nonsense [in a conference call or while standing] and the meeting will be over in five minutes."
Tyler also says that you can use economic theory when ordering off a menu at a nice restaurant. Instead of ordering something that sounds good, Tyler says that you should go for something that you would least likely order. "There is so much out there—be it music or movies or food—that is good that we don't know about," he says. By trying something outside of the norm, Tyler says you may discover something wonderful that will bring you joy or satisfaction that you never knew existed.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013