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Thaler and Sunstein: 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.
Amazon.com: What are some of the situations where nudges can make a difference?
Thaler and Sunstein: 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.
Amazon.com: Can you describe a nudge that is now being used successfully?
Thaler and Sunstein: 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.
Amazon.com: What is "choice architecture" and how does it affect the average person's daily life?
Thaler and Sunstein: Choice architecture is the context in which you make your choice. Suppose you go into a cafeteria. What do you see first, the salad bar or the burger and fries stand? Where's the chocolate cake? Where's the fruit? These features influence what you will choose to eat, so the person who decides how to display the food is the choice architect of the cafeteria. All of our choices are similarly influenced by choice architects. The architecture includes rules deciding what happens if you do nothing; what's said and what isn't said; what you see and what you don't. Doctors, employers, credit card companies, banks, and even parents are choice architects.
We show that by carefully designing the choice architecture, we can make dramatic improvements in the decisions people make, without forcing anyone to do anything. For example, we can help people save more and invest better in their retirement plans, make better choices when picking a mortgage, save on their utility bills, and improve the environment simultaneously. Good choice architecture can even improve the process of getting a divorce--or (a happier thought) getting married in the first place!
Amazon.com: 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?
Thaler and Sunstein: 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.
Amazon.com: You point out that most people spend more time picking out a new TV or audio device than they do choosing their health plan or retirement investment strategy? Why do most people go into what you describe as "auto-pilot mode" even when it comes to making important long-term decisions?
Thaler and Sunstein: There are three factors at work. First, people procrastinate, especially when a decision is hard. And having too many choices can create an information overload. Research shows that in many situations people will just delay making a choice altogether if they can (say by not joining their 401(k) plan), or will just take the easy way out by selecting the default option, or the one that is being suggested by a pushy salesman.
Second, our world has gotten a lot more complicated. Thirty years ago most mortgages were of the 30-year fixed-rate variety making them easy to compare. Now mortgages come in dozens of varieties, and even finance professors can have trouble figuring out which one is best. Since the cost of figuring out which one is best is so hard, an unscrupulous mortgage broker can easily push unsophisticated borrowers into taking a bad deal.
Third, although one might think that high stakes would make people pay more attention, instead it can just make people tense. In such situations some people react by curling into a ball and thinking, well, err, I'll do something else instead, like stare at the television or think about baseball. So, much of our lives is lived on auto-pilot, just because weighing complicated decisions is not so easy, and sometimes not so fun. Nudges can help ensure that even when we're on auto-pilot, or unwilling to make a hard choice, the deck is stacked in our favor.
Amazon.com: Are we humans just poorly adapted for making sound judgments in an increasingly fast-paced and complex world? What can we do to position ourselves better?
Thaler and Sunstein: The human brain is amazing, but it evolved for specific purposes, such as avoiding predators and finding food. Those purposes do not include choosing good credit card plans, reducing harmful pollution, avoiding fatty foods, and planning for a decade or so from now. Fortunately, a few nudges can help a lot. A few small hints: Sign up for automatic payment plans so you dont pay late fees. Stop using your credit cards until you can pay them off on time every month. Make sure you're enrolled in a 401(k) plan. A final hint: Read Nudge.
I like the concept but it was a tough read. The examples being used since they were US centric were not that great an interest to me and this I believe made it a harder read as I... Read morePublished 13 hours ago by Rick Yvanovich
Rea.d an excerpt. Have not had time to read the book. Expect to learn a lot from the bookPublished 8 days ago by Anne Boleyn
I read this book with the thinking that I would probably be concerned about the practice of Nudging, because it would be a covert way of convincing people they want something they... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Michael E. Sullivan
The opening 50% was fantastic. I learned lots. The second half was too US specific. Mortgage, credit cards and marriage - interesting but not as relevant. All in all a good read.Published 14 days ago by Tigerdeano
Suggests a lot of really good ideas for helping people make better choices. Is a little preachy at times, which is really the only reason it didn't get five stars. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Brenda
Have you ever wondered how spin doctors manage to get us on board with the perspective they want us to believe? This book explains some of how they achieve that.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer