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YLS Professor Ian Ayres ’86 To Discuss His New Book, Carrots and Sticks, Sept. 21

It’s not the lack of will power that’s keeping you from losing weight—it’s the lack of the right incentive. So says Ian Ayres ’86, Yale Law School William K. Townsend Professor of Law. If $20,000 were on the line, Ayres is betting that you would stick to that diet.

Ayres will discuss the power of incentives and other topics from his latest book, Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done (Bantam, 2010), at a book talk Tuesday, September 21, at Yale Law School.

The key to achieving a goal—whether it’s meeting work deadlines or simply eating better—goes beyond ability and self-discipline. Proper incentives can be the key, says Ayres. In Carrots and Sticks, Ayres introduces the idea of a “commitment contract,” applying the behavioral economics study of rewards and punishments. This high-power strategy for setting goals and actually achieving them can be used beyond the business model and applied to such everyday goals as losing weight, quitting smoking, or finally cleaning off your desk.

Ayres is one of the founders of www.stickK.com, a website that allows people to put money on the line and sign a contract committing to their personal goals. Those who achieve the goal don’t pay out the money. Those who don’t meet the goal forfeit the money to a charity they like—or, if they go with the stick option, a charity they don’t like.

Ayers will discuss Carrots and Sticks September 21, 6 p.m., at Yale Law School, Room 120. The first 25 audience members will receive their own “carrots”—door prizes awarded by the book talk sponsor, The Lillian Goldman Law Library.