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Do football helmets protect brains? Well, yes and no.

If you choose to sprint head-first into another human being, it’s better for your brain to wear a helmet. But, if you weren’t wearing a helmet, you probably wouldn’t make that choice in the first place. The helmet itself creates an incentive to play football a certain way.

Economics helps us notice the hidden incentives that lurk in our complicated world. It explains why even well-intended actions can have unintended consequences, and why some behaviors that may seem blameworthy can have praiseworthy effects.

Learning Objectives

Students will understand that:

  • Incentives are the additional rewards or penalties people receive from engaging in more or less of a particular activity.
  • Incentives influence people’s choices.
  • Actions can change incentives in unexpected ways.

How to Use These Materials

Students can view the following essays and videos in any order, although we recommend starting with the next page. Teachers can use these as stand-alone lessons or plug them into your own lesson plan. Our quizzes can be taken here or embedded into your Google Classroom assignments.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].