Nudge: The Final Edition: Improving Decisions About Money, Health, and the Environment Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Since the original publication of Nudge more than a decade ago, the title has entered the vocabulary of businesspeople, policy makers, engaged citizens, and consumers everywhere. The book has given rise to more than 200 "nudge units" in governments around the world and countless groups of behavioral scientists in every part of the economy. It has taught us how to use thoughtful "choice architecture" - a concept the authors invented - to help us make better decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society.
Now, the authors have rewritten the book from cover to cover, making use of their experiences in and out of government over the past dozen years as well as an explosion of new research in numerous academic disciplines. To commit themselves to never undertaking this daunting task again, they are calling this the "final edition". It offers a wealth of new insights, for both its avowed fans and newcomers to the field, about a wide variety of issues that we face in our daily lives - COVID-19, health, personal finance, retirement savings, credit card debt, home mortgages, medical care, organ donation, climate change, and "sludge" (paperwork and other nuisances we don't want and that keep us from getting what we do want) - all while honoring one of the cardinal rules of nudging: make it fun!
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 33 minutes|
|Author||Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 03, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #3,454 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#15 in Business Decision Making
#18 in Business Decision Making & Problem Solving
#26 in Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Top reviews from the United States
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How specifically, does this edition differ? "Two important topics are given new chapters early on. The first is what we call [begin italics] Smart DIsclosure [end italics] The idea is that governments should consider the radical thought of moving at least into the twentieth century in the way they disclose important information....Widespread use of Smart DIsclosure would make it possible to to create online decision-making tools that we call [begin italics] choice engines [end italics] , which can make many tasks as easy as it has become to find the route to get to a new restaurant.
"We have also added a new chapter on what we call [begin italics] sludge [end italics], which is nasty stuff that makes it more difficult to make wise choices...We introduce several choice architecture concepts, in addition to 'sludge,' that are new to this edition...These concepts play a large role in the chapters about financial decision making. We have increased the space we devote to climate change and the environment." [Pages xiii-xiv]
According to Barry Schwartz, "What Kahneman and Tversky did for the basic psychology of decision making, Thaler and Sunstein did for policy. In domains as disparate as savings, health care, driving, energy conservation, eating, and even urinating (by men), Thaler and Sunstein provide evidence that left to their own devices, people often make mistakes, sometimes very consequential ones, and that these mistakes can be mitigated or even eliminated if institutions take an active role in doing so.
"The oxymoronic term 'libertarian paternalism' captures much of the thinking behind Nudge. Its recommendations are paternalistic in that they try to steer people in the right direction. But it is libertarian in that people are free to resist nudges if they choose to do so. This libertarian paternalist approach has come to be called 'soft paternalism,' in that people are influenced, but not required, to move in certain directions."
So, what's a nudge? Sunstein has explained it this way: "A nudge is an intervention that maintains freedom of choice but steers people in a particular direction. A tax isn’t a nudge. A subsidy isn’t a nudge. A mandate isn’t a nudge. And a ban isn’t a nudge. A warning is a nudge: “If you swim at this beach, the current is high, and it might be dangerous.” You’re being nudged not to swim, but you can. When you’re given information about the number of fat calories in a cheeseburger, that is a nudge. If a utility company sends something two days before a bill is due, saying that “You should pay now, or you are going to incur a late fee,” that is a nudge. You can say no, but it’s probably not in your best interest to do so. Nudges help people deal with a fact about the human brain—which is that we have limited attention. The number of things that we can devote attention to in a day or an hour or a year is lower than the number of things we should devote attention to. A nudge can get us to pay attention."
Thaler and Sunstein nudge their reader to consider being a "choice architect" who "has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions." They offer dozens of examples from their own experience and remind me of several of mine. Here's one. While attending a reception in Washington for a new UK ambassador to the United States, I became engaged in conversation with one of his aides. When I asked him how he defined diplomacy, he replied, "Letting the other chap have it your way."
That in essence is what nudging others is all about. Moreover, many of those who read this book may be encouraged to use some of the material to nudge themselves when making what may initially seem to be relatively minor decisions but could perhaps have important implications and even very serious consequences in months and even years to come. That is what one of the characters in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises indicates when explaining how his company became bankrupt: "Gradually and then suddenly." The same is true of tooth decay and compound interest on credit card debt. Here's a positive example: What if you set aside only one dollar a day, every day, since you first went to work full-time?
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Top reviews from other countries
The book retrospectively examines situations, mostly in the USA, where nudge could have helped people with their choices—with healthcare plans, Social Security contributions, mortgages, credit cards, etc. The effectiveness of nudging in those cases is circumstantial, but there is arguably a need for it. However, because what the author says is terribly common-sensical, the book feels like an overstatement of nudging.
What follows is the essence of this book without the fluff.
Some people cannot think rationally; therefore, decisions should be made on their behalf. But instead of depriving them of freewill, we must nudge them towards the desirable choices so they have the illusion of control.
And the authors do it well. Clear writing, effective examples, and a gradual build towards a strong understanding of what makes societies and individuals tick, and why they make the decisions they do. I found it a good read alongside Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" which goes more into the psychology side; Thaler and Sunstein are more practitioners. Definitely worth reading.