Chair 1

Prof Dan Ariely

Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University

Joep Lange Chair Prof Dan Ariely addresses the conditions under which people in Africa participate in health exchange platforms, how to nudge economic behavior of people towards more healthy lifestyles and prepayment for health.

Timeline of engagement

Prof Dan Ariely officially commenced his activities as first rotating Chair of the Joep Lange Chair and Fellows Program on 1 January 2017. Collaboration with Dan Ariely started in January 2016.

Research focus within the Joep Lange Chair & Fellows Program

If there’s one field that can’t afford to ignore behavioral science, it’s health. For this reason, over the past three years, together with the Joep Lange Institute, behavioral economist Dan Ariely and his team at the Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH) have been exploring how to help people in Kenya take better health and financial decisions.

JLI collaborates with behavioral scientists because we believe better decision making is crucial for all aspects of health management: to motivate people to live healthily, to motivate people to save for health or sign up to insurance, to understand what drives health seeking behavior, to understand and improve adherence of people to treatment, to name a few areas of application. If we want to build a more inclusive healthcare system, we must first understand why people do what they do and how we can get them to make better decisions.

Currently, Dan Ariely and his team from CAH are engaged in multiple concrete implementation research projects in Kenya with JLI’s partner organizations PharmAccess and CarePay. The Chair & Fellows grant forms the basis of the funding of these research projects with funding for Dan Ariely and the fellow linked to him, Ting Jiang. Additional project costs for implementation of the research (local project costs, supplies, additional team members) are funded by JLI and its partners outside of the Chair & Fellows program.

Concretely, Dan Ariely and his team are working to help make the M-Tiba health wallet more effective by discovering ways to encourage users to set funds aside for healthcare and health insurance. M-TIBA is mobile health exchange platform that includes a wallet on a mobile phone containing specified entitlements for healthcare. Users can use this wallet to save (for their family’s health), get insurance, receive money from more affluent relatives elsewhere in the country, from donors, and even from individuals in other countries willing to donate directly for health (remittances).

Making use of behavioral economic theory the team have carried out numerous tests amongst both the clients using M-Tiba as well as the participating health facilities. These tests have helped to better understand the M-Tiba customer in their health seeking behavior and in their willingness to pay and save for healthcare. By understanding the challenges facing M-Tiba users and using behavioral economics strategies to address them, Ariely and his team are helping to change people’s daily lives to encourage them to think better, save more and, ultimately, benefit from better healthcare.