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DUCKWORTH: Rumplestiltskin, you’ve got a deal.

*      *      *

DUCKWORTH: I’m Angela Duckworth.

DUBNER: I’m Stephen Dubner.

DUCKWORTH + DUBNER: And you’re listening to No Stupid Questions.

Today on the show: Why is Chick-fil-A so successful?

DUBNER: We haven’t even talked about the chicken yet. Should we talk about the chicken?

DUCKWORTH: Oh, my God. Yes, please!

*      *      *

DUCKWORTH: Stephen, I have a pretty urgent question for you. Are you ready?

DUBNER: I am ready.

DUCKWORTH: The question is this. Why is Chick-fil-A such a big deal? I mean, I also love chicken sandwiches. But Chick-fil-A is not just a restaurant. I feel like it’s an institution. So, I just wondered if you had any strong opinions on Chick-fil-A? What accounts for their success? Your relationship with Chick-fil-A?

DUBNER: So, I’m very curious to know why you’re asking this question today, although I am tickled by it. If I recall correctly, I first encountered Chick-fil-A when I went to college in the South, where Chick-fil-As were much more prominent. They started there.

DUCKWORTH: It seems like it would be a Southern thing.

DUBNER: I have eaten, maybe, five to 10 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in my life. I thought they were perfectly yummy, although I don’t go out of my way for them. But it is true that they are wildly successful on a business level. They are the third-largest U.S. restaurant chain, by domestic sales.

DUCKWORTH: What?! Chick-fil-A? No.


DUCKWORTH: Wait, what’s number one and two? McDonald’s and Burger King?

DUBNER: McDonald’s is No. 1. Starbucks is number two. But I will note: When we talk about the third-largest U.S. restaurant chain by domestic sales, I don’t think those are dollars per restaurant. If you look at average sales per restaurant, Chick-fil-A is No. 1 in the fast-food industry — beating McDonald’s, beating Chipotle. And, in case you didn’t know, Chick-fil-A is doing this only being open six days a week. They’re closed on Sundays.

DUCKWORTH: That, I did know. We all know that.

DUBNER: So, I think what a lot of people know about Chick-fil-A is basically they make chicken sandwiches, the founders are what most people would consider conservative Christians, who therefore have the shop closed on Sundays. But also, there’s been controversy about supporting causes that grow out of their conservative Christianity that enraged some people — particularly having to do with being against gay marriage.


DUBNER: The firm also made charitable contributions to organizations that were considered to be biased or exclusionary. And that led to a whole series of protesting and boycotts — which I also happen to know a little bit somehow, because we did a Freakonomics Radio episode some years back on whether boycotts actually work. We looked at the Chick-fil-A boycott. Short answer is no. Most boycotts do not work, for a combination of reasons. No 1., many people that you may want to boycott aren’t customers already. So, you can’t turn off the spigot. If people that you want to boycott are customers, but they really like something, it’s going to be really hard for them to stop. And also, boycotts tend to get a lot more attention in the media than they produce actual outcomes in the real world.

DUCKWORTH: In addition to that — what was that documentary about McDonald’s?

DUBNER: Super Size Me.

DUCKWORTH: Super Size Me! I left that movie — I went to McDonald’s. I was like, “Let’s get a Big Mac.” There’s something about boycotts that draw attention to— You weren’t even thinking about Chick-fil-A! Now there’s a boycott, and then you think, “Oh, the one with the tasty chicken sandwiches and pickle?” And then you start buying more, not less.

DUBNER: And then, additionally, a boycott usually has some kind of political component to it. Well, what that may do is, then, spur the side that’s politically not against it to, actually, patronize the store more. This would be called a” buy-cott.”

DUCKWORTH: Oh, is that thing? A buy-cott?

DUBNER: I’m telling you: it is a thing. So, there are all kinds of reasons why a boycott may not work. And I think that was the case with Chick-fil-A and most boycotts of its type.

DUCKWORTH: Did people line up to, like, show solidarity against the boycotters?

DUBNER: I think there were some well-known conservative politicians who pushed the cause. Mike Huckabee was behind a buycott of Chick-fil-A. So, those are all the political and cultural components of the Chick-fil-A story that most people know, but if you’re asking why they are so successful, I think there’s an interesting set of answers, which we can go through. Have you been to a Chick-fil-A, Angie?

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. It’s a very weird name, right? Like, if you’re going to start a restaurant chain, are you going to choose something which people can’t even reliably capitalize? Like, the “fil” is not capitalized, the “Chick” and the “A” are — it’s got hyphens.

DUBNER You know, the “A” is for, like, “Grade-A,” by the way.

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. They want it to have this kind of pun in their name. Again, not to be recommended, I think, widely. Anyway, there’s a Chick-fil-A at the Philadelphia Airport. And, by the way, it always has the longest line, but it’s a very fast-moving line.

DUBNER: And what does seeing a long line make you do?

DUCKWORTH: Well, according to Ayelet Fishbach and other social psychologists, the line makes you want to line up, because you think it’s very good. And that’s exactly what I do. I mean, I get to the Philadelphia airport, and if I have an extra half-hour, I go to Chick-fil-A.

DUBNER: Now, when you go to Chick-fil-A, do you ever order, let’s say, a burger from them?

DUCKWORTH: Do they sell burgers? They don’t sell burgers.

DUBNER: They do not sell burgers!

DUCKWORTH: Was that a trick question?

DUBNER: I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

DUCKWORTH: I know their menu! They only sell the chicken sandwiches, and then they have these waffle fries — which I think are not very good, because they need to cook them longer. And I think they sell a couple of sides. And I think their logo is, like, this cow.

DUBNER: Right, the cow saying, “Eat mor chikin’”

DUCKWORTH: “Don’t eat the beef.” So, I think that’s pretty much their whole menu.

DUBNER: They do have salads, by the way.

DUCKWORTH: Oh, they do? Oh, okay. Nobody gets them, though.

DUBNER: I don’t know if that’s a factual statement. I would think it’s probably not.

DUCKWORTH: Oh, God. Nobody orders the salad.

DUBNER: Okay, are you going on the record saying that no one has ever ordered a salad from Chick-fil-A?

DUCKWORTH: I’m going on the record that, rounding down to the nearest nobody, nobody gets the salad.

DUBNER: I am willing to put a little bit of money on that.

DUCKWORTH: Let’s put a percentage on it. Let’s put a bet. What percentage of customers order the salad, out of all total orders?

DUBNER: So, I’m going to set the anchor — over/under. And I’m taking the over at three.

DUCKWORTH: I don’t even know what over/under means. I know we’re on a branch of our digression, but what is the over/under?

DUBNER: Over/under is how you make a bet — usually in sports, but it works very well in this case. And I’m saying the over/under — the demarcator — is three. So, if 3 percent or more of Chick-fil-A customers get a salad in their order, I win the bet.


DUBNER: Which I believe we said was for a billion dollars. If it’s exactly three, it’s a tie. If it’s under three, you win a billion dollars from me. Fair?

DUCKWORTH: Rumpelstiltskin, you’ve got a deal.

DUBNER: Seriously?

DUCKWORTH: Are you kidding? You think three out of 100 people? No way.

DUBNER: Okay, here would be my question. Why would Chick-fil-A bother to have — now I’m looking at their online menu — three salads if fewer than 3 percent of the people are going to order them?

DUCKWORTH: Virtue signaling?

DUBNER: Of the chain?

DUCKWORTH: I don’t know.

DUBNER: Wait a minute. I’ve got to call my yacht guy to see what I’m going to order, because I got a billion coming in. There’s no way. Okay. So, what I’m getting at here, though, is: They have a limited menu. And what do we know about choice and the paradox thereof, Angela?

DUCKWORTH: Too much choice, according to Barry Schwartz, is bad.

DUBNER Would you accept the possibility that one reason that Chick-fil-A does so well is because they offer a relatively small choice — most of them being chicken sandwiches?

DUCKWORTH: There might be some benefit from the consumer side, because you’re like, “Oh, thank God I’m not overwhelmed with choices,” but it’s probably more on the production side. Right? Because they have, you know, economies of scale and other efficiencies that are like, “Just get good at one thing,” which is: Make the chicken sandwich.

DUBNER: I will say this: If you look at the business practices of this company, they’re interesting. Let’s start with the results. Their customer satisfaction levels are the highest in the fast-food business. How do they do this? Apparently, they have really friendly people working there. So, here’s my question for you: How the heck do you successfully recruit friendly people? You know, there’s the well-known book The No ***hole Rule. There’s this entire philosophy around: if you hire people who are good and kind people, then a lot of problems kind of work themselves out. But how do you do that?

DUCKWORTH: I think it could be selection, but it also could be training. And most companies who care anything about the quality of customer service try to do both. Who are you recruiting? And then, what do they do when you get there? You know, I wish that Jason — my husband, Jason — were here right now, because he has a minor obsession with Chick-fil-A, not for the sandwiches, but for the service. And he was telling me the other day that they have a very unusual training program, and it must be at least as much of that as attracting people and selecting them.

DUBNER: Do you think, however, you could train someone like me, even, to be friendly and kind at a place like this? Or would I be weeded out in the selection process?

DUCKWORTH: Or would you just not make it very long there, because you’d be so annoyed by all these friendly people?

DUBNER: Right. But that’s expensive. You don’t want to hire people who are a bad fit. You want to get rid of them before you hire them, right?

DUCKWORTH: True. Good business advice. Well, Stephen, I was talking to Bob Cialdini, the social psychologist, about norms. And I said, “Bob, what would you be if you had not become a social psychologist?” And he thought for a moment, and he said, “I guess I’d be a waiter.”


DUCKWORTH: And the reason he said that is that he’s so interested in making people happy. So, I think that’s pretty damn close to being a Chick-fil-A server.

DUBNER: I will say, Bob Cialdini — first of all, very friendly.

DUCKWORTH: Oh, Prince Charming!

DUBNER: But what’s so interesting is: If you’ve read his book, which I know you have, and I know I have, and I’m guessing many other people have — it’s called Influence. He’s written a few, but this was the big one.

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. And it’s a recent revision of it, right?

DUBNER: Exactly. And he tells a story about going undercover in these different industries to do his research — to learn how firms manipulate people, essentially.


DUBNER: And he studied this one restaurant where he was hired, I think, as a busboy. He tried to be hired as a waiter — maybe that’s why he says he would be a waiter. It’s an unrequited dream. He was not able to become a waiter. But he was made a busboy. That put him in a position to observe all the other waiters. And he said the most successful waiter was this guy who essentially was a master — well, manipulator would be one word, or a chameleon — but he immediately would size up the nature, and the character, and the desire, of a given diner, or set of diners, and adjust his behavior to suit them. And some of it was quite manipulative. Like, if he noticed there was a young couple on a date, he would sort of guilt the guy — who he assumed was buying — into buying more expensive food, by assuming that the guy on the date would not object to being suggested a particular dish that happened to cost more. So, I can see Bob being an excellent waiter, but perhaps slightly more manipulative than you or I might like.

DUCKWORTH: Ah, well in defense of Prince Charming—

DUBNER: “He’s also a bastard,” you’re about to say?

DUCKWORTH: No. I was going to say, when Bob revised Influence — this classic book that every C.E.O. has, because it’s the science of persuasion — the second book really, actually, explains more how his whole life purpose is to illuminate the principles of human persuasion for good, not for ill. And he has the motive, for example, of equipping all of us — us, like, unwitting customers of Chick-fil-A, or wherever — to everything that’s happening to us, so that we cannot be manipulated. So, that’s my defense of Prince Charming — of Bob Cialdini.

DUBNER: He told me the same thing once, but he even agreed that even though that was his motive and intention, the firms have a lot more incentive and motivation to become really good at manipulating than customers do at avoiding manipulation. That said, he’s also noted that he’s tried very hard to not let his book be used in a super Machiavellian way. That’s not fair, cause Machiavelli apparently wasn’t as bad as we’ve all been saying he is.

DUCKWORTH: Right. He mostly, like, hung out in the countryside being, like, not able to come back to society.

Still to come on No Stupid Questions: Stephen and Angela discuss how choosing to patronize specific companies shapes our sense of self.

DUCKWORTH: Decidedly walking past the Chick-fil-A, even though you love chicken sandwiches, would be a way of expressing your identity.

*      *      *

Before we return to Stephen and Angela’s conversation about Chick-fil-A’s success amidst controversy, let’s hear some of your thoughts on the subject. We asked listeners to share their experiences boycotting specific products. Here’s what you said.

Sachi EZURA: When I was 13, I was obsessed with Z100 and “Elvis and Elliot in the Morning.” And one day, they gave away the ending to the movie The Sixth Sense before I had gotten a chance to see it. And I was really upset. I hate spoilers. So, I decided I was going to boycott the radio station and listen to one of the other stations. This was pre-Spotify, so our music choices were kind of limited. It didn’t last very long. I ultimately gave up and just went back to listening to Z100, because I didn’t have that many other options. And I realized that they had no idea whether I was listening to them or not. But I always still felt a little bit betrayed that they had ruined that movie for me.

Mary MALAGUTI-LANCTOT: Hi, this is Mary from Massachusetts. I certainly have embraced boycotting in recent years from small choices to big ones. I don’t choose to spend my money at either Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A. And my family recently switched from AT&T to another carrier because we don’t respect the campaign spending choices AT&T makes politically. I actually think boycotting has become one of our greatest democratic powers. I know that newsletters such as “Popular Information” and a couple Twitter accounts, like Sleeping Giants, that I follow have allowed me to target my consumption in more ethically directed and, I really truly believe, more measurably productive ways. I’m really grateful that there are resources to keep me informed on how to spend my money more mindfully and meaningfully.

Amanda NOVER: A few years ago, in the city where I live, there was a major chef and owner of a huge restaurant group who was accused of sexual harassment and a number of other really evil things in his restaurants. Immediately people started to call for boycotts, and I wasn’t sure what to do. These were some of my favorite restaurants, including one right around the corner from where I lived, where I went for happy hour all the time. Ultimately, I decided to boycott the restaurants, and so did a lot of other people. And since then, all of the restaurants have closed. I like to think I played a small role in standing up for victims of sexual harassment and standing up for what I believe in.

That was, respectively: Sachi Ezura, Mary Malaguti-Lanctot, and Amanda Nover. Thanks to them and to everyone who sent us their thoughts. Now, back to Stephen and Angela’s conversation about the remarkable success of Chick-fil-A.

DUBNER: So far, we’ve covered so little of the territory of what makes Chick-fil-A successful. We’ve talked about the paradox of choice — they have a small menu. We’ve talked about the friendliness of the staff. They also do this thing called “upstream ordering,” where, if you’re sitting at the drive-through, they come out to you in your car with an iPad and take your order. We haven’t even talked about the chicken yet. Should we talk about the chicken?

DUCKWORTH: Oh, my God. Yes, please. I love talking about food. We don’t talk about food enough, Stephen.

DUBNER: I’m looking at a piece from Mashed, 2019, called: “This Is Why Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Is So Delicious.” Would you like to know some reasons?

DUCKWORTH: Yes, please.

DUBNER: Number one: Chick-fil-A wanted their chicken sandwich to taste like it was a real, homemade, fresh-grilled chicken that you’d make, maybe in a backyard barbecue. It’s really hard to do that on a commercial grill, apparently, over, and over, and over, thousands of times a day. So, to make up for that, they put $50 million into developing their own special grill, which apparently is successful. Here’s what else they do though: Each piece of chicken from Chick-fil-A is moved from the freezer to the refrigerator, allowed to thaw for 24 hours, before getting fried or grilled.

DUCKWORTH: I have read this, and this is a pretty important life-hack. When you defrost things, you could put it in the microwave, you could put it on defrost — or my mom used to always, like, leave stuff out on the counter, which is apparently not hygienic — but, I’ve recently learned that it’s better to defrost things slowly. So, you put it from the freezer to the refrigerator, and then, over a longer period of time, it comes to a warmer temperature.

DUBNER: So, you are preaching to the Chick-fil-A choir.

DUCKWORTH: I guess I didn’t even think about the fact that it even started out as frozen, but that makes sense.

DUBNER: You think they just have chickens in the back, and they slice off a breast every time somebody puts it in an order?

DUCKWORTH: Thank you for that image, Stephen. But anyway, better to be slowly defrosted than quickly.

DUBNER: So, plainly they pay a lot of attention to basic food quality.

DUCKWORTH: They have standards.

DUBNER: But it’s not like they’re going way above and beyond what other food places do. But here’s another reason I think that Chick-fil-A may be doing so well. Their business strategy is also, again, not unique, but pretty unusual. I’m reading from — this is The Wall Street Journal, 2021. This piece is called, “The Unconventional Franchise Model Behind Chick-fil-A’s Success.” “Unlike most chains where the franchisee covers most of the costs of opening the restaurant, Chick-fil-A owns every one of its locations.”

DUCKWORTH: They are like the Singapore of franchises. Like, “We’re going to tell you what to do. We’re going to build everything. No local control here.”

DUBNER: Well, here’s what it says on the Chick-fil-A website: “Franchising is not an opportunity for passive financial investment, working from the sidelines, or adding to a portfolio of ventures.” In other words: If you want to take our fine Chick-fil-A name and use it to enrich yourself, without devoting yourself to the Chick-fil-A philosophies of chicken-making, you’re not our kind of person.

DUCKWORTH: Does that mean you can’t own more than one?

DUBNER: I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that franchisees are called “operators,” and that each operator is hand-picked by Chick-fil-A after what they call a “rigorous” interview process. Do you want to know how rigorous?

DUCKWORTH: I do want to know.

DUBNER: What’s the acceptance rate, would you say?

DUCKWORTH: Oh, gosh. I’m going to say that it’s probably something like Harvard admissions — so, single digits. Around 5 percent?

DUBNER: It’s a very good parallel you made. But the acceptance rate is well under 5 percent. It’s 1.6 percent.


DUBNER: So, what this is adding up to is centralized control. This is the firm running itself, wanting to have locations everywhere, not leaving it to chance that a given franchisee will be good or not. Now, what’s interesting is: Top-down, centralized control is not always the answer in business. If you were setting out to become “Ms. Chick-fil-A,” let’s say, I’m curious to know the degree to which you would try to follow this model, as we’ve been discussing so far. Would you want to be very, very tight on local operations? Or would you say, “You know what? If we want to grow this, we’re going to have to have a certain level of openness and trust — that people will do it the way we want to do it without exercising that level of control.”

DUCKWORTH: I am a micromanager, Stephen. I think if I were going to start a restaurant chain, it would kill me to know that there’d be, like, a thousand people with their opinion about how to do things. So, I would probably be the Chick-fil-A — yeah, that would be my philosophy.

DUBNER: Would you say that this conversation about Chick-fil-A has made you more, less, or equally likely to eat a Chick-fil-A sandwich when you have the opportunity in the next one month?

DUCKWORTH: Well, Stephen, now that you’ve told me the full context — because as you know, I almost never know what’s going on in current events — I am going to have to revisit my plan to go to the Philadelphia airport and go to Chick-fil-A, because my identity is of a left-of-center liberal.

DUBNER: You’re like, “Oh no, I am not going to eat one of their sandwiches, because I know that the founding family has supported causes that go against my moral, or social, or political fabric.”

DUCKWORTH: Right. That’s who I walk around thinking I am, and that’s who I walk around, like, liking to think that I am. The psychologist who leaps to mind when I think of identity is always Daphna Oyserman. She’s studied how people express their identity: Who I am, and importantly, how that differs from other people. Because that’s the core of identity — not just that I happen to think of myself as somebody who is left-of-center, but also to recognize that there are people who are probably even farther left of me, and also many more people who are to the right of me. She, of course, would say it’s your outward affiliation. Like, you could proudly tell people that you’re a member of this political party or not. But what’s interesting is she’s also shown that people make consumer choices — like the products you buy, the restaurants you tend to go to — as ways of expressing their identities. And, in this case, decidedly walking past the Chick-fil-A, even though you love chicken sandwiches, would be a way of expressing your identity. So, too, I guess, a buycott — standing in line because you’re not even hungry, but you want to show support for Chick-fil-A. And now I’m really torn, because I don’t have the identity of somebody who would support that kind of policy. On the other hand, I’m not sure whether punishing each and every one of these franchise operators is the right thing to do, because they may or may not agree with the very senior leadership.

DUBNER: Well, on that last point, I would guess that, if a firm like Chick-fil-A is so careful at picking their operators, they’re going to pick operators who are in line with their philosophy, and political and religious outlook on the world.

DUCKWORTH: Is that even legal though?

DUBNER: Oh, gosh. I think it’s one of those things that even if it were not quite legal, there’s a million different ways that people do that all the time.

DUCKWORTH: And there’s self-selection, right? Like, who’s the sort of person who wants to open a restaurant that has this very explicit tradition? But also, in the very large franchise group, could we say that everybody is against L.G.B.T.Q. rights? That also seems, to me, probably not true. But I do think it’s very interesting, this idea that consumer choices are reflecting things that are deeper and ideological. My husband Jason always says this about people’s cars. Like, he has this habit of buying station wagons. And I’ve pointed out to him that we no longer have small children. We don’t have tents.

DUBNER: But that’s his identity.

DUCKWORTH: He has this identity as the sort of person who drives a station wagon.

DUBNER: He’s a dad.

DUCKWORTH: I guess so! I guess it’s, like, “the dad car.” So, I do think it’s interesting, if we examine our own choices and the things that we would never think of buying. Like, I’m not going to buy a red baseball hat either.

DUBNER: So, a lot of people have struggled with this very question within the context of Chick-fil-A. There’s a piece I’m looking at now from Delish called “So, is it okay to eat at Chick-fil-A now?” The firm sort of— I wouldn’t say they apologized. They kind of clarified some things, and they did change some of their contributions. But, basically, a lot of people have been asking themselves this very question: What if I love a sandwich that’s made by a company whose values I don’t consider admirable at all? So, it strikes me as almost the perfect example of the slippery-slope argument.

DUCKWORTH: Should we be listening to Michael Jackson? Right?

DUBNER: Should I be spending the billion dollars that you’re going to give me from winning a bet on Chick-fil-A? Or should I spend it only on things that might morally absolve me from having won the billion dollars?

DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I don’t know what the answer to this question is. I really don’t. I think maybe while the jury is out, we should all go to Panda Express.

No Stupid Questions is produced by me, Rebecca Lee Douglas. And now, here is a fact-check of today’s conversation.

In the first half of the show, Angela says that the Chick-fil-A logo is a cow. This is incorrect. The logo is simply “Chick-fil-A” written in a script-style font called “Chicken Hut” with a design meant to represent a chicken’s comb over the first letter. Angela was thinking of the company’s famous advertising campaign, created by The Richards Group in 1995, where a group of cows act in their own self-interest by trying to get humans to quote, “eat mor chickin” instead of beef. Fans of the cows will be sad to learn that Chick-fil-A broke with The Richards Group in 2016.

Later, Angela bets Stephen that fewer than 3 percent of Chick-fil-A customers purchase a salad. We contacted Chick-fil-A’s data analytics team to get an answer, but unfortunately didn’t hear anything back in time for this episode. I did, however, call ten restaurants in the New York City area, and received estimates ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent from the managers on duty. So, I’d like to declare Stephen the tentative winner here. If we do receive an official number from the corporate office, we’ll share it on our Twitter account, @NSQ_Show — at which point we’ll make Angela pay up, but she can keep her billion dollars for now.

Also, Stephen and Angela wonder if Chick-fil-A operators can run more than one location. In most cases, the company does not permit this. In addition, operators are not allowed to have any other businesses.

Finally, I have to note: Not long after this recording, Angela texted Stephen and me a photo of her having lunch at the Chick-fil-A in the Philadelphia airport. It seems that she had a craving similar to the one she had after seeing Super Size Me, and Panda Express just couldn’t replace her hankering for a chicken sandwich.

That’s it for the fact-check.

Coming up next week on No Stupid Questions: Stephen and Angela discuss a new paper about gender differences in personal well-being.

DUCKWORTH: Wow. Holy Schmoley. Women are really unhappy.

That’s next week on No Stupid Questions. For that episode, we want to know: How does your gender affect your happiness? To share your thoughts, send a voice memo to with the subject line “Happiness.” Make sure to record someplace quiet, and please keep your thoughts to under a minute. Maybe we’ll include them on the show!

No Stupid Questions is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network, which also includes Freakonomics Radio, People I (Mostly) Admire, and Freakonomics, M.D. All our shows are produced by Stitcher and Renbud Radio. This show was mixed by Eleanor Osborne. Our staff also includes Alison Craiglow, Greg Rippin, Gabriel Roth, Morgan Levey, Zack Lapinski, Julie Kanfer, Mary Diduch, Ryan Kelley, Jasmin Klinger, Emma Tyrell, Lyric Bowdich, Jacob Clemente, and Alina Kulman. Our theme song is “And She Was” by Talking Heads — special thanks to David Byrne and Warner Chappell Music. If you’d like to listen to the show ad-free, subscribe to Stitcher Premium. You can follow us on Twitter @NSQ_Show and on Facebook @NSQShow. If you have a question for a future episode, please email it to To learn more, or to read episode transcripts, visit Thanks for listening!

DUBNER: Do you like Panda Express?

DUCKWORTH: What’s not to like? Have you ever had their bourbon chicken?

DUBNER: It’s got more sugar than, like, three Snickers.

DUCKWORTH: I know. That’s why it’s so delicious.



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  • Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University.
  • Ayelet Fishbach, professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian diplomat and philosopher.
  • Daphna Oyserman, professor of psychology, education, and communication at the University of Southern California.
  • Barry Schwartz, professor of social theory and social action at Swarthmore College.



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