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3.6 out of 5 stars
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2009
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
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 19, 2014
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2014
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. Often just because of lack of knowledge or lack of familiarity with a subject (who practices retirement?).

The second part was how to improve choices in very specific situations. Most 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 agaisnt libertarians ad proponant of laissez faire capitalism.
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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.

Sunstein and Thaler then sway towards the political, an important and worthwhile move but one that becomes tedious and repetitive as the book progresses. They acknowledge that some might see nudges as an infringement on their liberties but, ultimately, they assert, context-free choice does not exist. An approach that both preserves freedom of choice and guides people to make educated, thoughtful decisions could allow people to make their lives healthier, happier and longer. The deliberate oxymoron, "libertarian paternalism," which in itself will cause some eyes to glaze over, describes this philosophy. "Private and public choice architects are not merely trying to track or to implement people’s anticipated choices," the authors conclude. "Rather, they are self-consciously attempting to move people in directions that will make their lives better. They nudge."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2013
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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on May 23, 2015
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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on June 7, 2014
One reasons that hardware stores are my favourite stores is that I get to view hundreds of solutions to common problems. I enjoy simply wandering down the isles, marvelling at the genius on display. Nudge offers a similar collection of genius.
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on May 4, 2014
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.
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on July 16, 2015
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 analyze
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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!
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