The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday December 7th

World famous professor tells students about recent experiments

Duke professor Dan Ariely spoke at Hillel on Monday.
Buy Photos Duke professor Dan Ariely spoke at Hillel on Monday.

Renowned behavior economics professor Dan Ariely encouraged students to take risk in their education and invest in their future during his lecture at UNC Hillel on Monday. 

“Find something you are passionate about,” Ariely said. “Something that can change your life and the life of those around you. Take more risks.”

Ariely is a professor at Duke University and is well-known for his TED talks, his three New York Times best sellers and his study of the forces that influence human behavior. 

Ari Gauss, executive director of Hillel at UNC, said it is never a dull conversation when Ariely speaks. 

“We appreciate making people think and see new perspectives,” Gauss said. 

Ariely's biography on TED.com refers to research and experiments as being “amusing and unorthodox.” Ariely discussed his recent projects during the lecture. 

“I’m enjoying taking ideas and making them into reality,” Ariely said.

In the first experiment, Ariely explained how he worked with a company to increase their profits. He and his team did this by awarding bonuses to certain employees based on a random algorithm. 

His second experiment involved monitoring weight reduction. The participants stepped on the scale that did not show a weight, but a number, one through five. The numbers let them know if they were on the right track on their weight loss journey, encouraging them to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Many students were excited to hear about Ariely’s most recent experiments.

First-year Sadie Emch said she's read many of Ariely’s books and wanted to hear about his current research. 

“I think it would be interesting to hear about new stuff he is working on and (what) stories he has,” Emch said.

First-year Avra Janz made the trip to Hillel for the first time to hear her favorite economist speak. 

“I hope to hear more of his exciting ideas, and see how they can expand my perspective,” Janz said.

Ariely said the point is to not only think about the physical world, but also to take time to think about the mental side of things too.  

“Think about the mental world," Ariely said. "How much attention are we giving to that? Not as much. If we took the time to look at them the same things would be much different.”

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