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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness Hardcover – Apr 8 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (April 8 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780300122237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300122237
  • ASIN: 0300122233
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #143,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"I love this book. It is one of the few books I've read recently that fundamentally changes the way I think about the world. Just as surprising, it is fun to read, drawing on examples as far afield as urinals, 401(k) plans, organ donations, and marriage. Academics aren't supposed to be able to write this well."—Steven Levitt, Alvin Baum Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
(Steven Levitt)

"In this utterly brilliant book, Thaler and Sunstein teach us how to steer people toward better health, sounder investments, and cleaner environments without depriving them of their inalienable right to make a mess of things if they want to. The inventor of behavioral economics and one of the nation's best legal minds have produced the manifesto for a revolution in practice and policy. Nudge won't nudge you—it will knock you off your feet."—Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University, Author of Stumbling on Happiness
(Daniel Gilbert)

“This is an engaging, informative, and thoroughly delightful book. Thaler and Sunstein provide important lessons for structuring social policies so that people still have complete choice over their own actions, but are gently nudged to do what is in their own best interests. Well done.”—Don Norman, Northwestern University, Author of The Design of Everyday Things and The Design of Future Things
(Don Norman)

“This book is terrific. It will change the way you think, not only about the world around you and some of its bigger problems, but also about yourself.”—Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and Liar's Poker
(Michael Lewis)

"Two University of Chicago professors sketch a new approach to public policy that takes into account the odd realities of human behavior, like the deep and unthinking tendency to conform. Even in areas—like energy consumption—where conformity is irrelevant. Thaler has documented the ways people act illogically."—Barbara Kiviat, Time
(Barbara Kiviat Time 2008-04-03)

"Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's Nudge is a wonderful book: more fun than any important book has a right to be—and yet it is truly both."—Roger Lowenstein, author of When Genius Failed
(Roger Lowenstein)

"A manifesto for using the recent behavioral research to help people, as well as government agencies, companies and charities, make better decisions."—David Leonhardt, The New York Times Magazine
(David Leonhardt The New York Times Magazine)

“How often do you read a book that is both important and amusing, both practical and deep? This gem of a book presents the best idea that has come out of behavioral economics. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to see both our minds and our society working better. It will improve your decisions and it will make the world a better place.”—Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University, Nobel Laureate in Economics
(Daniel Kahneman)

"Engaging, enlightening."—George Scialabba, Boston Sunday Globe
(George Scialabba Boston Sunday Globe 2008-05-18)

"The suggestions in Nudge provide fascinating examples of how tiny changes in context can cue radically different behaviour. Awareness of these cues empowers consumers, voters and decision-makers."—Rebecca Walberg, National Post
(Rebecca Walberg National Post 2008-06-21)

"An essential read . . . an entertaining book. . . . The book isn't only humorous, it's loaded with good ideas that financial-service executives, policy makers, Wall Street mavens, and all savers can use."—John F. Wasik, Boston Globe
(John F. Wasik Boston Globe 2008-07-22)

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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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Morris on Nov. 27 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! I have a business background but I now work extensively in the area of health promotion. I found the information in the book really practical and helpful. There were all kinds of excellent ideas about things organizations and people can do to (subtly) influence their employees/family/friends to make better decisions, whether we want them to choose healthy food choices in the company cafeteria or make sound and sensible decisions with their retirement savings. For example, you can encourage a parent to have an operation by saying: "there is a 90% chance you will have a full recovery". If you don't want them to have it, just tell them: "there is a 10% chance you'll die".

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nat Hawthorne TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 19 2014
Format: Paperback
This book came way after the Freakonomics series and other similar books by the legendary Daniel Kahneman. However, they all cover similar topics that are part and parcel of the ever growing field of Behavioral Economics. Therefore, as I was reading through Nudge, I could not help but think that it was an attempt to ride the recent wave.

But, that does not mean the book and its concepts are not relevant. Thaler and Sunstein have worked on this field for decades and are experts on the field. So, they cannot be accused of trying to ride the waves. The book argues that "humans" are not able to make the best decisions for themselves, unlike "econs". And, it argues for "nudges" to help make these humans choose the optimal solutions that they always say they want to achieve but don't act on it. While all that is fine, I thought the abbreviation for these so-called nudges, which was N-U-D-G-E-S, appeared kind of forced. Nevertheless, the ideas are timely and relevant.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on reviews and my interests in government management. The first part was very insightful. It gave lots of evidence that people do not always make the best decision for themselves and loved ones and why it is the case. Often people just lack knowledge or familiarity with a subject (who practiced their retirement before retiring?).

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.
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By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 16 2014
Format: Paperback
3.5 Stars...

"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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Syndicator on June 3 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The principles described in this book are useful in the modern context to achieve efficient and efficacious results in public management.
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To read this book is to produce better ways to live life and make decisions. Some needless labels to talk of differences of types of persons and how they make such decisions or nudges to a decision. Good read for politicians, bureaucrats, companies with a bonus web site to keep readers updated on how to nudge people to make a decision, wealth, health, cable and many more. The example for selling magazines the nudge is to automatically renew subscriptions for greater circulation as to letting the subscription run out and asking for a renewal.
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