What Do Grocery Store Prices and Heart Surgery Have in Common? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 4)
Humans are hardwired to focus on the left digit in numbers. It’s why products are priced at $3.99 instead of $4.00. But does this left-digit bias also affect medical decisions? Host Bapu Jena is joined by a fellow researcher and a cardiologist to explain how left-digit bias shows up in one of the most important decisions a doctor can make, what it means for patients, and what we can do about it.
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Relevant Research & References
Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:
- Stephen Coussens, economist and an assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.
- Bryan Smith, assistant professor of medicine and a cardiologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
- “Behavioral Heuristics in Coronary-Artery Bypass Graft Surgery,” by Andrew R. Olenski, André Zimerman, Stephen Coussens, and Anupam B. Jena (The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021).
- “Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market,” by Nicola Lacetera, Devin G. Pope, and Justin R. Sydnor (American Economic Review, 2012).