Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness




Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein

Behavioural Economics


First, let us start with what a nudge is (I was going to make a Monty Python joke here, but couldn’t work out how to make it a goer…).

In this context, Thaler and Sunstein define a nudge aaaaaaas:
“any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates.“

Intentional or not, every choice we encounter is burdened with bias. But by understanding how people settle on a decision, we can help them to make better ones. And we can even do so without restricting their choice. Instead, we just need to nudge them in the right direction.

What I took from reading it

A fascination and fairly solid (or I like to think so) understanding of choice architecture. Isn’t it mind-blowing that something so seemingly simple as choice presentation can have such a huge impact?

That being said, I still think we should be somewhat cautious with the ethics of it all.

Thaler and Sunstein only outline nudges that have been used for good (i.e. setting a default choice for a government pension scheme). Things will start to get a bit murkier as we all inevitably try to apply these principles to our business of selling more products / services to our respective consumers.

And, as a side note, nonchalantly saying I was reading a book on ‘choice architecture’ is probably the coolest I’ve ever sounded…

Who should read this book

Those who’re involved in steering consumer choice and want to understand more about the rationale behind their decisions. Furthermore, this is book is bible like for anyone wanting to make it easier for the consumer to make better choices.

And anyone who wants some bangin’ dinner party chat.

Where to Buy

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