Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness Hardcover – Apr 8 2008
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From the Author
A conversation with Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
Q: What do you mean by "nudge" and why do people sometimes need to be nudged?
A: By a nudge we mean anything that influences our choices. A school cafeteria might try to nudge kids toward good diets by putting the healthiest foods at front. We think that it's time for institutions, including government, to become much more user-friendly by enlisting the science of choice to make life easier for people and by gentling nudging them in directions that will make their lives better.
Q: You discuss tricks our minds play on us, and biases we have. What are some of those?
A: As with visual or optical illusions, our minds can play tricks on us. For example, we are very sensitive to the way choices are described or "framed." A medical treatment can be made more or less attractive depending on whether the outcomes are described in terms of the chances of survival or the chances of death, even though these are, of course, equivalent.
Q: What are some of the situations where nudges can make a difference?
A: Well, to name just a few: better investments for everyone, more savings for retirement, less obesity, more charitable giving, a cleaner planet, and an improved educational system. We could easily make people both wealthier and healthier by devising friendlier choice environments, or architectures.
Q: Can you describe a nudge that is now being used successfully?
A: One example is the Save More Tomorrow program. Firms offer employees who are not saving very much the option of joining a program in which their saving rates are automatically increased whenever the employee gets a raise. This plan has more than tripled saving rates in some firms, and is now offered by thousands of employers.
Q: You are very adamant about allowing people to have choice, even though they may make bad ones. But if we know what's best for people, why just nudge? Why not push and shove?
A: Those who are in position to shape our decisions can overreach or make mistakes, and freedom of choice is a safeguard to that. One of our goals in writing this book is to show that it is possible to help people make better choices and retain or even expand freedom. If people have their own ideas about what to eat and drink, and how to invest their money, they should be allowed to do so.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have receommended this book to several others; I also dug up an earlier book from Cass Sunstein (the co-author) called "Why Society Needs Dissent" which I stongly recommend also.
The second part was how to improve choices in very specific situations. Most of the examples concern the USA. I'm from Québec and I felt it only highlited systemic problems in the USA that we do not face here. It didn't give me lots of good ideas on how to help people make better choices, but it did point out why the USA has so many problems. Too many people try to make money off others. Limiting this predatory environment instead of trying to help people make better choices seems like a better way to help people.
Still, the first part was worth it. Lots of studies explaining why people make bad choices. It gives ammunition against libertarians and proponant of laissez faire capitalism.
"Blink." "Sway." "Flip." Such snappy, one-word titles purport to reveal the hidden dimensions of human behaviour by both informing and entertaining the reader. "Nudge" certainly falls into this genre but it goes a step further, making a strong case for more enlightened social and economic policies.
We see ourselves as rational creatures, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler point out, but four decades of research show that our choices tend towards the unrealistically optimistic, the status quo and thoughtless conformity. Citing what they call "the emerging science of choice," the authors contend that the framing and presentation of public choices determines the decisions we make: we eat more from large plates, care twice as much about losing money as gaining it and agonize about rare events like plane crashes instead of common ones like auto accidents.
"Choice architecture" can thus guide, or "nudge," people toward making better choices. A nudge, Sunstein and Thaler write, "alters people's behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives...Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not." The authors dedicate much of the book to practical examples of nudges, detailing how to take advantage of people's tendency to expend a minimum of effort and how to make use of subtle social influences. Many of these examples both persuade and entertain; they describe, for instance, how etching a small black fly in a urinal gives men something to aim at, thus reducing reducing spillage by 80 percent.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A book suitable for all background to read. Informative in how to improve practices. Great way to identify ways to mitigate problems that may seem too large to analyzePublished 6 months ago by sandy
This book came way after the Freakonomics series and other similar books by the legendary Daniel Kahneman. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nat Hawthorne
This put was like putting on a new set of glasses then going out into the world. Everything is a series of nudges including raising children.Published 21 months ago by Ryan Castle
Very interesting - validates my belief that most people make decisions based on emotion and then back them up based on facts. We are just not as "Vulcan" as we think we are!Published on Feb. 11 2010 by Aviva Shiff
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