Changing Choices by Changing Situations
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 12, 2008
Economic behavioralists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have a new book, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. The book does a great job of illustrating some of the ways that situation influences our behavior and how adjustments to the situation might lead to behavior and outcomes that we prefer.
From the publisher:
Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain, is that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder. Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself.
Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society. Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful “choice architecture” can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Nudge offers a unique new take—from neither the left nor the right—on many hot-button issues, for individuals and governments alike. This is one of the most engaging and provocative books to come along in many years.
To listen to an 8-minute interview of Richard Thaler on NPR’s Day to Day, click here.