Behavioral Economics and Inner Inspiration: Can financial incentives motivate people to adopt a healthy lifestyle?


They say money can speak, but is it motivated?

Finding inspiration for healthy living seems to be an endless search. Readers of my article will know that I belong to the camp of intrinsic motivation. This is a belief that the strongest and most sustainable motivation is in our emotional relationships, the most important people and activities.

However, there are other camps. One that has attracted a lot of attention is behavioral economics. Proponents say that financial incentives can be used to overcome bad habits and promote healthy practices. This is the rationale behind the gym membership fees provided by health insurance companies and employers. They bet that exercise will improve your health and ultimately save them the cost of care. The ultimate goal is that you adopt healthy behaviors permanently and everyone will win.

But is it effective?

Unlike classical economics, which relies on rational decision-making influenced by personal economic interests, behavioral economics combines psychology to explain the contradictory behaviors we witness every day. Under traditional economic theory, individuals understand the financial consequences of unhealthy behaviors and intuitively evoke the discipline to guide a healthy lifestyle.

Experience in real life proves otherwise.As described by Thomas Rice, a professor of health policy in the United States UCLABehavioral economics recognizes that people often act irrationally in an economic sense, make short-sighted decisions based on inadequate understanding of alternatives, and do not necessarily learn from their mistakes. As a result, people struggle to overcome self-control and value their current enjoyment with their future happiness too much.

In fact, people will eat donuts repeatedly, stay inactive and ignore the long-term consequences of their actions. Research proves this.

Ignore the economy

There are obvious economic motives for healthy living.This U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention It is estimated that by reducing costs related to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol, a sustained weight loss of 10% will reduce the lifetime medical costs of overweight people by US$2,200 to 5,300.

Cited research Rutgers University Showing inactivity is estimated to cost between US$670 and US$1,125 per person per year. In addition, people with poor health usually die at a relatively young age and spend thousands of dollars on prescription drugs and healthcare. This is money that could have been invested. And many people don’t live long enough to receive the pension and social security benefits they have contributed throughout their lives.

Finally, according to American Heart AssociationModerate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes a week and 5 days a week is associated with a significant reduction in health care expenditures and resource utilization for people with and without cardiovascular disease.

Money can make ghosts grind

When incentives target more challenging behaviors (such as smoking and obesity), the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of behavior changes are little known. BMC Public HealthBut economic incentives are increasingly seen as an important tool to promote behavior change, leading to healthier lifestyles.

Rewards can take many forms, including cash or vouchers that can be exchanged for required items. As the overall economic and social costs of unhealthy behaviors become apparent, and it is found that healthy behaviors are significantly affected by the economic incentive structure faced by individuals, a clear enthusiasm for using incentives to influence healthy behaviors has emerged.

Research by Mayo Clinic It showed that weight loss study participants who received financial incentives were more likely to adhere to the weight loss plan and lose more weight than participants who did not receive incentives. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Steven Driver, sustained weight loss can be achieved through financial incentives, which can improve outcomes, compliance, and compliance.

When Harvard Medical School When examining whether financial incentives can help change unhealthy behaviors after common sense and medical advice failed, they cited smoking and obesity studies that supported their response as qualified “yes.”

Use incentives to increase motivation

Uri Gneezy is a professor of behavioral economics at the University of California, San Diego.As he was Behavioral Economics GuideBy changing the cost or benefit of an activity, incentives can help by increasing or decreasing the motivation to engage in an activity. Gneezy pointed out the core factors targeted by behavioral economics. The health consequences of unhealthy behavior are in the distant future, but now cold cash can be provided. The goal is to use incentives to change perceived value and to motivate people to change behaviors that they already know should be changed, and to do so with a limited budget.

Gneezy proposed four ways in which economic incentives affect behavior: creating new habits, breaking old habits, providing early incentives, and removing obstacles.

Find your motivation

Psychologists will continue to discuss the best way to lasting behavior change, especially because it relates to your health. The best framework for dialogue may not be to choose between methods, but which method is best for you, or how the theory works together. Advocates of behavioral economics recognize that there are risks in continuing to adopt practices when incentives stop. Proponents of intrinsic motivation admit that even if they start financially, individuals can internalize new behaviors.

Lowering the cost of your health plan may just be a reason for you to quit smoking or join the gym. In the process, you may realize that quitting this habit can bring both short-term and long-term financial benefits-and possible benefits for your family.

If you cannot get rewards from your employer or insurance company, then a healthy lifestyle can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses is still a strong argument. Reducing fast food, reducing alcohol intake and restricting red meat are just some practical steps that can reduce expenses. No matter where you find motivation, it is important to know that there is more than one way to overcome challenges.


Louis Bezich, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Cooper University Healthcare is “Cracking the code: 10 verified secrets that can inspire healthy behavior and satisfaction in men over 50. ”Read more from Louis about his website.



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