Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Stuart King: On the “What The Hell” Effect

April 12, 2020

Stuart King designs evidence-based interventions for children and adults to change their behavior and manage their weight. He has worked with the UK’s NHS as an Obesity Lead, as a Senior Scientist in the Obesity and Healthy Weight Team, and is now the CEO and Head of Distraction at his company, BeeZee Bodies. The firm provides behavior change services across all of England.

Our conversation was recorded just after the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus a pandemic, but before countries like Italy and Spain had ordered more severe lockdown measures. In this dynamic world, it’s important to know that because, as Kurt and Tim like to say, context matters!

Stuart’s observations on behavioral science combine his scholarly knowledge of the literature and a very practical approach to applying those principles. We found his ideas about the Whole Systems Approach, growth mindset, and the power of defaults very interesting.

We hope you will, too.

PS…it’s regrettable when we make mistakes, but it’s on us to call them out. At about 1:15:30 in this episode, Tim said two erroneous things that necessitate correction. First, the Symphony he’s referring to is the 5th Symphony, not the 9th. And second, the composer was Beethoven, not Bach. Such an error is unexplainable and somewhat unbelievable given his familiarity with both composers. We ask you to forgive this error, and enjoy a listen to Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (favorite!) on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Stuart King:

Lady Gray Tea:

Real World Behavioural Science Podcast:

“Habit Before the Habit”:


Pierre Bourdieu:

Rich Sheridan:

Menlo Innovations:

Tim Chadborn:

Dan Ariely:

Whole Systems Approach:

Carol Dweck “Mindset”:

Susan Michie, PhD:

Jim McManus:

Common Biases & Heuristics:

How to Stop Autoplay on Netflix:

Birdsongs inspiring human music:


Behavioral Grooves Patreon Site:

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @WhatMotivates

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan


Musical Links

Stephen Fretwell “Emily”:

Valentina Lisitsa “Rachmaninoff 1st Piano Sonata”:

Tim Houlihan (on Soundcloud):

Nathan Carter “Wagon Wheel”:

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, conducted by Herbert von Karajan: neither hosts nor alters podcast files. All content © its respective owners.