Homer Simpson's Irrational Behavior

Jul 12, 2013
As much as we'd hate to admit it, when it comes to health decision-making, most Americans are more like Homer Simpson than like Mr. Spock.

Click PLAY to hear Chief Scientist Bob Nease explain rational and irrational models of human behavior by contrasting Mr. Spock and Homer Simpson:

Homer Simpsons Irrational Behavior

A Clash of Two Models: Mr. Spock vs. Homer Simpson

When you really think about it, there are two models of human behavior.

The first is rational behavior. This type thinks logically and acts in his or her best interest, much like Mr. Spock of Star Trek. If a person is acting with rational behavior, non-adherence to medication would be intentional.

The second behavior model, irrational behavior, is based on limited attention. Here, intent is good, but the job doesn’t always get done. I call this the Homer Simpson model. For irrational behavior, non-adherence to medication is accidental.

As we look deeper into the research around medication adherence, the rational model – Mr. Spock – doesn’t really seem to reflect the majority of Americans. For example, a rational perspective would suggest that waiving prescription copayments altogether would lead to a significant improvement in patients’ ability to stay on their medication therapy. But unfortunately, when this has been tested, the results are disappointingly weak.

As another example, if a rational person knew all the details about how his medication could improve their health, he would surely stay on his therapy, right? Well, data show that when patients are provided more education about their disease and their medication, adherence rates only increase at meager rates.

So although there may be a couple Mr. Spocks among us, unfortunately, the vast majority of patients fall in line with the irrational model – the Homer Simpson. We forget. We procrastinate.

And although Mr. Spock already knows exactly how to achieve optimal health, Express Scripts is able to also help us all – even the Homer Simpsons – make better decisions regarding our medications.

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