Tag Archives: baking

Fine or No Fine

While the Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake is baking in the oven, I’m finally writing this long-due post. A good friend of mine was visiting San Francisco back in Feb and I thought about writing this post, but one thing led to another and my well-planned “so-my-friend-visited-from-Israel-last-week” intro was no longer appropriate. That is, until he surprise visited last week again! So here we go again…taking action before it’s too late this time, because its a very fitting introduction to the study I want to talk about which was done in Haifa, the city where he’s from.

I’ve read this research a while back. It’s a great example of how the traditional economic incentives of giving people money or making people pay for something not leading to the action/behavior you want.

So, here’s the problem. Parents are often late to pick up their child or children from daycare in Israel. It’s not really a problem that my friends and I have to think about at our stage in life, but walk with me. Parents are supposed to pick up their kid from daycare at 4pm, but probably because of work and other commitments (or because they’re Israelis?…they can be late sometimes), they’re often running late. They came up with a solution: lets add a small fine to nudge parents to be on time. The fine will be 10 Israeli Shekel, which is around $3 USD, if the parents are more than 10 minutes late.

They ran an experiment with 10 daycare centers around Haifa – 6 of them were randomized to introduce the fine, the rest were not to introduce the fine. And then the researchers observed for 10 weeks – what happened?

There were more parents who came late after the introduction of the fine, than at daycares without the introduction of the fine.

What? The fine was supposed to reduce the number of lateness, but it surprisingly went the other way and increased it.

Alright, well, that’s not great. Lets reverse it then. We don’t want to increase lateness, so lets put it back to normal. On the 17th week of the experiment, they removed the fines so that all the 10 daycares had no fine again. They found that the effects persisted – meaning that parents who were late with the fines remained late after the fines were removed! There were more parents arriving late to the daycares that previously had the fines even after the fine period was over…ahhhh!

 

Why did this happen?

The researchers hypothesize that it’s because parents and the daycare had an “incomplete contract” when it came to being late for pick-ups. This means that the exact consequences of arriving late were not specified. Without an explicit rule, some parents might feel that they shouldn’t be late too many times, and they’re not sure how the school will handle these situations. However, with the introduction of the fine, parents are now thinking “I’m paying for it, so its okay I’m a few minutes late! They’re taking care of my child.”

That’s just one possible explanation. In reality, the researchers were so surprised by the results that they wrote, “the possibility of an increase in the behavior being punished was not even considered” in the existing literature. And thus lies the importance of running experiments and testing whether your hypotheses are right or wrong, because we could sometimes surprise ourselves.

Much of this could be culture specific (having worked with an Israeli, I can attest to significant cross-cultural (uh, hiccups?) differences) or it could be because the punishment is not severe enough. Either way, this study humbles us to be fascinated by behavioral research because you can implement some change, hoping for one result and have it go completely the opposite way! Maybe similar to me putting rhubarb, sugar, butter, flour, into the oven hoping for a rhubarb cake and then have it turn out…hm. I guess someone might hope for chocolate cake instead.

See you again soon my friend!

Love,
Steph

follow me on instagram (@brainandthewind) to see the pictures of the rhubarb upside-down cake!

Source for study: Gneezy, Uri, and Aldo Rustichini. “A fine is a price.” The Journal of Legal Studies 29.1 (2000): 1-17.

Here’s the graph with the main result: fine is a price graph

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Pumpkin Pie

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One of my proudest moments in the past 2 months was getting my mom hooked on pumpkin…foods. No nudging was needed, when she caved to the temptation of those pumpkin spice cakes at Trader Joe’s (yes, they are amazing). After that, the list went on – pumpkin muffin, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin bread…do they sell pumpkin puree in HK? ah, I hope they do.

So when Thanksgiving rolled around, I naturally had to incorporate some sort of pumpkin food into the meal. In fact, it was the only item I made for Thanksgiving: the glorious Pumpkin Pie.

pie

I cannot pinpoint when it started; when I would say “pumpkin [something]” and my friends would roll their eyes and mumble “of course”. Well, here it is again my dear friends! But let me tell you, its not a normal pumpkin pie, it is made with a gingersnap cookie crust, a significant life upgrade from the packaged frozen crust I sometimes use.

This recipe was taken from Fork Knife Swoon, a new food blog I found that has recipes simple enough for amateur cooks to follow. At least it seems more manageable to me. If you’ve experienced cooking paralysis from reading fancy food blogs with a list of ingredients you couldn’t pronounce and seven too many steps you know you couldn’t follow, I think Fork Knife Swoon might be a good bet. I’ll have to let you know.

I have also decided to make pumpkin pie my perfected dessert. I am impressed at how other bloggers have the patience to experiment with different ingredients/cooking times/mixing methods and make the same dish a dozen times before posting. I want to try to do that, so lets start with the pumpkin pie. This might even become my new years resolution for 2016 (note to self)!

thanksgivingdinner

Hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving break. Christmas in a few weeks – let the countdown begin again!

Recipe again is here: Fork Knife Swoon – Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

Love,
Steph

MATCHA OREOS

the weeks seem to be going by faster every month. can you believe it’s already the end of April? where did the time go? in other news, i’m starting to think that my desire to bake is linked to the season. from november to february, i had no interest in experimenting with flour/sugar/butter/vanilla extract/brown sugar. but now that it’s getting warmer, i’m really excited to fire up the oven again!
for those who know me well, you might know that i’m (slightly) obsessed with pumpkin products. the pumpkin spice lattes, yum. why can’t we have that all year round? i also tend to bake a lot of things with pumpkin purée during the fall (and all year round). but at the request of my friends, i’ve decided to branch out and search for a new ingredient to bake with.
that’s when i came across this blogger: my name is yeh. her food features a combination of the east and the west. as an example, her latest post is drunken zucchini noodles. the post that really caught my eye was Matcha Oreos.
matcha 7

Continue reading MATCHA OREOS