One of the most dangerous assumptions that any startup can make is that the consumer behaves rationally.

Over the past few decades, the field of behavioral economics has determined that humans often make decisions that don’t align with their personal interests. In instance after instance, research shows that traditional predictions about human behavior fall short of reality. For entrepreneurs undertaking a pursuit already wrought with risk and uncertainty, the irrationality of consumers becomes yet another obstacle on the road to success.

That’s where the Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH) at Duke University comes in. This fall, the center launches a one-of-a-kind incubation program that helps entrepreneurs incorporate behavioral insight into their business models. While developing products or services, the entrepreneurs will also familiarize themselves with the center’s literature on consumer behavior, learn proven statistical methods for making decisions, and determine, with the help of experts, how to leverage research tools into their process.

The idea for the program came from Center founder, professor and award-winning author, Dan Ariely. While he spent time in Silicon Valley last year as co-founder and chief behavioral officer of Timeful, a mobile application that helps you schedule items on your to-do list (now a part of Google), Ariely noticed that most incubator programs gave advice on things like how to navigate legal issues or how to expand your network. The use of academic research was largely absent from the entrepreneurial process. As an expert on behavioral economics and psychology, Ariely was aware of how much social science knowledge could help answer a lot of difficult questions faced by new ventures.

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