Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nalini Ambady

I just heard the sad news that Nalini Ambady didn't find a bone marrow donor and passed away..

I remember taking a class in my first year at Harvard from her, Social Psychology for Psych Ph.D.'s, it was a great class. She generously agreed to have 5 of us econ students be part of the class, since there were only 15 Psychology students, I think we changed the class a lot. This class still influences me, and I recommend all behavioral students to take a psychology class...

Stanford News writes that

"Of the roughly dozen people who were potential matches for Ambady, however, half turned out to be incompatible or only superficial matches.

The others chose not to donate, a result that is common in bone marrow transplant cases. There are many reasons people ultimately decide not to donate, including cultural taboos or fears of pain or inconvenience. (Donating bone marrow is only slightly more complex than donating blood, though it requires multiple visits.) Some people's contact information simply falls out of the system, especially the case with college-age donors who frequently change addresses.

Eberhardt and Markus said that SPARQ will partner with bone marrow registries to develop strategies for enrolling more people, and especially minorities, to participate in cheek swab tests, and also to encourage people to actually donate later on when they are identified as a match."

It may be time for us economists to think more about how to use incentives and encourage donations, or why there is such a big pushback from using monetary incentives...

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