June 15, 2021

Paying people to take their medicine

Mary Poppins notwithstanding, sometimes nothing helps the medicine go down. And when patients simply won't take their medication, it's a serious problem – not just for them, but for the health care system as well.

One-third to one-half of all patients do not take medication as prescribed, and up to one-quarter never fill prescriptions at all, reports the New York Times. And all that forgetfulness translates into a staggering toll on  already strained health care budgets.

That’s why doctors in Pennsylvania are exploring a new approach to try to improve compliance. The premise: Offering a bonus to help patients choke down their pills.

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May 11, 2021

I think I’ll just have what she’s having

It’s no secret that we look to others for cues about to behave. Whether it’s saving or spending money what other people do and how they express their desires are strong influences.  

And, when it comes to eating out at least, what we order is affected by the body type of the other person eating, according to the Journal of Consumer Research.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia recruited female undergraduates to participate in study during which they watched a video clip while munching on M&Ms from a small bowl.

Before each subject took her share of candy, a plant, masquerading as a fellow participant, poured a stack  into a bowl of her own.

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December 06, 2021

When smart people do dumb things

It’s what you don't know about statistics, probability and rules of scientific thought that may be keeping you from being a successful investor, says U of T prof Keith Stanovich in his recent book, What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought.

The trick to curing this "dysrationalia" is to quit being such lazy thinkers, or to use Stanovich’s term, cognitive misers. Most of us take the route that requires less mental effort, even if it proves less accurate, he maintains.

Poor investment decisions have, for example, been linked to overconfidence, the tendency to give too much credence to chance events, and the tendency to substitute emotions for thought – all of which have little to do with intelligence, he says.

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May 28, 2021

Why it pays to be an optimist

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Although written for advisors looking to understand their clients, here’s an interesting article from investment industry consultant Dan Richards which draws heavily on the work of Martin Seligman.

Seligman is a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. Much of his research has focused on optimism, a trait shown to be associated with good physical health, less depression and mental illness, longer life and, if you’re really lucky, greater happiness.

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April 27, 2021

Good news: Money can buy happiness after all!

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that it’s possible to buy happiness after all: providing you spend money on others.

In a series of studies, a team led by UBC professor Elizabeth Dunn found that people report significantly greater happiness if they spend money on gifts for others or charitable donations, rather than on themselves.

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March 03, 2022

Designer children -- order yours today

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

As a consumer in 2009, you’ll find yourself a pretty generous display of products to choose from.

You can pick the very best of the best. Want a touch-screen cell phone, but one that’s also a video iPod? It’s yours. Have your eye on that sleek sedan but want suede seats instead of leather? You got it. By now, on most of what you desire, the choice is yours.

But this? Several media outlets have reported a fertility clinic in the U.S. advertises it can now help would-be parents select not only the gender of their child, but physical traits – such as hair colour and skin complexion – as well.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...