Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. ThalerNudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

byRichard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

Hardcover | April 8, 2008

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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 in this important exploration of choice architecture, 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.


 

Richard H. Thaler is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics and the director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. Cass R. Sunstein  is Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Chi...
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Title:Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and HappinessFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.06 inPublished:April 8, 2008Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300122233

ISBN - 13:9780300122237

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Reviews

From the Author

A conversation with Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein Q: What do you mean by "nudge" and why do people sometimes need to be nudged? A: 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. Q: You discuss tricks our minds play on us, and biases we have. What are some of those? A: As with visual or optical illusions, our minds can play tricks on us. For example, we are very sensitive to the way choices are described or "framed." A medical treatment can be made more or less attractive depending on whether the outcomes are described in terms of the chances of survival or the chances of death, even though these are, of course, equivalent. Q: What are some of the situations where nudges can make a difference?A: 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. Q: Can you describe a nudge that is now being used successfully? A: 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. Q: 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? A: 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.

Editorial Reviews

"[A] new book applying the lessons of social psychology and behavioral economics to everything from health care to climate maintenance. The authors of Nudge . . . agree with economists who'd like to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by imposing carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade system, but they think people need extra guidance."—John Tierney, New York Times  "Two University of Chicago professors sketch a new approach to public policy that takes into account the odd realities of human behavior, like the deep and unthinking tendency to conform. Even in areas—like energy consumption—where conformity is irrelevant. Thaler has documented the ways people act illogically."—Barbara Kiviat, Time  "A manifesto for using the recent behavioral research to help people, as well as government agencies, companies and charities, make better decisions."—David Leonhardt, The New York Times Magazine  "Engaging, enlightening."—George Scialabba, Boston Sunday Globe  "Sunstein and Thaler are very persuasive. . . . Great fun to read."—Dahlia Lithwick, Slate  "An essential read . . . an entertaining book. . . . The book isn't only humorous, it's loaded with good ideas that financial-service executives, policy makers, Wall Street mavens, and all savers can use."—John F. Wasik, Boston Globe  "An engaging and insightful tour through the evidence that most human beings don't make decisions in the way often characterized in elementary economics textbooks, along with a rich array of suggestions for enabling many of us to make better choices, both for ourselves and for society. . . . The conceptual argument is powerful, and most of the authors' suggestions are common sense at its best. . . . For that we should all applaud loudly."—Benjamin M. Friedman, New York Times Book Review  "By a 'nudge,' Thaler and Sunstein mean a policy intervention into choice architecture that is easy and inexpensive to avoid and that alters people's behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing an individual's economic incentives. . . . Thaler and Sunstein stress that if 'incentives and nudges replace requirements and bans, government will be both smaller and more modest.'"—George F. Will, Newsweek  "Save the planet, save yourself. Do-gooders, policymakers, this one's for you."—Newsweek  ". . . an excellent rendition of how human beings view choices and make decisions."—Gurumurthy Kalyanaram & Sunanda Muralidharan, International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Management Vol 5.4  "As important a book as I've read in perhaps 20 years. It is a book that people interested in any aspect of public policy should read. It is a book that people interested in politics should read. It is a book that people interested in ideas about human freedom should read. It is a book that people interested in promoting human welfare should read."—Barry Schwartz, The American Prospect  "Nudge helps us understand our weaknesses, and suggests savvy ways to counter them."—Emily Bobrow, New York Observer  "This Poor Richard's Almanack for the 21st century . . . shares both the sagacity and the witty and accessible style of its 18th century predecessor."—Benjamin Gregg, Law and Politics Book Review  "As bookstore shelves fill up with works by parlor-room thinkers who would entertain us with their economic nonsense, an entertaining book that also deeply informs could get lost in the shuffle. That book is Nudge. . . . Thaler and Sunstein's . . . attempt to deal with difficult issues is always stimulating."—Gene Epstein, Barron's (One of this season's recommended page-turners on economic, financial and political-economic issues)  "Entertaining, engaging, and well written. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice  "I love this book. It is one of the few books I've read recently that fundamentally changes the way I think about the world. Just as surprising, it is fun to read, drawing on examples as far afield as urinals, 401(k) plans, organ donations, and marriage. Academics aren't supposed to be able to write this well."—Steven Levitt, Alvin Baum Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything "In this utterly brilliant book, Thaler and Sunstein teach us how to steer people toward better health, sounder investments, and cleaner environments without depriving them of their inalienable right to make a mess of things if they want to. The inventor of behavioral economics and one of the nation's best legal minds have produced the manifesto for a revolution in practice and policy. Nudge won't nudge you—it will knock you off your feet."—Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University, Author of Stumbling on Happiness "This is an engaging, informative, and thoroughly delightful book. Thaler and Sunstein provide important lessons for structuring social policies so that people still have complete choice over their own actions, but are gently nudged to do what is in their own best interests. Well done."—Don Norman, Northwestern University, Author of The Design of Everyday Things and The Design of Future Things "This book is terrific. It will change the way you think, not only about the world around you and some of its bigger problems, but also about yourself."—Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and Liar's Poker "Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's Nudge is a wonderful book: more fun than any important book has a right to be—and yet it is truly both."—Roger Lowenstein, author of When Genius Failed