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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thaler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.29
149 used & new from $2.67

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nudge for goodness sake, May 3, 2008
Nobody forced my neighbor to buy that expensive plasma TV. After reading Nudge now he knows why he spent so much more money than he intended. It seemed like such a bargain, standing right next to a much more expensive set in the store display. In Thaler and Sunstein's terms, the store nudged him to buy that TV. They organized the choice set in a way that gently moved him towards what they want him to do. They got him to buy a pricey TV by taking advantage of the principle of contrast. Such psychological biases have been exploited since the beginning of human commerce to sell us things we don't need. This book makes a compelling argument that the same psychological biases can be used to get us what we really want.

After reading Nudge it is easy to understand how small things can make a big difference. For instance, most people I know would like to save more money; most of them don't. Nudge convincingly argues that people can, and should be helped to do that. Very few of us can commit to saving more money today, but most of us can commit today to save more money tomorrow. This human tendency can be used to help people save, and Nudge describes how several companies have already implemented such programs successfully by nudging employees to committing in advance to save part of a future salary increase.

By relying on a large body of work in Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Thaler and Sunstein elegantly argue that people have predictable, systematic biases and that this knowledge can be put to work to help all of us.

Their basic thesis is simple and brilliant: First, how options are presented matters. There is no neutral way to present options. If you present the salads first in a buffet, people will eat more healthy food than if you put salads at the end. Second, don't reduce choice, but organize the options so that people will be more likely to end up with what they themselves would prefer. This is as true for the salad bar as it is for health care.

This amazing book is useful for individuals and policy makers. Policy makers should be interested because such "choice architecture" is strictly non-partisan. Individuals should be interested because this book will nudge them to improve their life their way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2008 10:10 AM PDT


Stumbling on Happiness
Stumbling on Happiness
by Daniel Todd Gilbert
Edition: Hardcover
161 used & new from $0.01

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommend, May 24, 2006
This review is from: Stumbling on Happiness (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic book. It is at the rare intersection of books that are entertaining and books of knowledge. Gilbert's exceptional gift for writing made it a great pleasure to read and made me think about happiness and the mind long after I finished reading. I strongly recommend it to anyone who knows how to read.


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