Faculty News

Prof. Adam Alter's research on completing unpleasant vs. pleasant tasks is featured

Pacific Standard logo
Excerpt from Pacific Standard Magazine -- "Imagine you’re working your way through a list of chores—you might have to dust some bookshelves, vacuum the rugs, and sweep the floors. Probably you’ll check off one group—one category—of chores at a time. If you dust one shelf, vacuum part of a rug, and sweep a bit over there, you’re still left with more dusting, more vacuuming, and more sweeping, making your to-do list feel interminable... That intuition turns out to be correct, according to Anuj Shah and Adam Alter. In a series of seven experiments, they show that the average person will try to tick off categories of unpleasant tasks before moving on to the next. They’ll do the opposite for more enjoyable things. That way, there are more categories left to sample from—even if the number of things in those categories is the same, that makes it feel like the good times last a little longer."

Read more