Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Victoria Shaffer: End of Life Decision Tools

Oct. 27, 2019

Victoria Shaffer is a researcher and professor at the University of Missouri. Victoria focuses on applying decision psychology and behavioral economics to medical decision making. In particular, she is researching judgment and decision making and how they impact the design of patient decision support tools.

Tim and Victoria met working on a field research project with Dan Ariely, PhD because of her work on non-monetary rewards with Scott Jeffrey, PhD. She was pushing back on common sense preferences, such as money is the best motivator, just as she is today with her work in the medical field.

Our conversation with Victoria began on familiar ground: the preference for cash as a reward and how it’s actually less effective than non-monetary rewards in incentive schemes. But we soon turned to the very personal journey of how she and her mother dealt with decisions surrounding her father’s diagnosis with cancer. Her personal journey became the foundation for important research to help patients, their loved ones and the caregivers communicate more effectively through stories. 

It’s a fascinating discussion and we hope you enjoy it. 



Victoria Shaffer:

Shelly Taylor on Biases and Mental Health:

Hal Arkes:

Decision Support Tools:

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande:

MD Anderson Cancer Center:

Advance Directives:

Palliative Care:

Peter Ubel – Duke:

Affective Forecasting Errors:

Columbia Records:

Dan Gilbert:


Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:



Van Halen:

Black Sabbath:

Ozzy Osbourne:


Depeche Mode:

The Cure:

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

James Taylor: neither hosts nor alters podcast files. All content © its respective owners.