Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Nudge

Author: Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Title: Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Description:  This book is about choice architecture: engineering decisions so people make the choice you want them to. While this can be done to commercial ends, Thaler and Sunstein argue for what they call libertarian paternalism: complete freedom of choice that is structured so that the largest amount of people will make the best decisions.  
Source: thanks, Penguin
Writing style: definitely engaging. This was one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in the past few months.
Audience: The book would be useful for anyone who designs choices for people—website designers, store (or library) personnel, investment counselors, etc. etc.
Major ideas: People often procrastinate (or try to completely avoid) making choices, and are easily overwhelmed by the glut of information accompanying many of the (even unimportant) choices they are forced to make. Those who design the choices therefore have considerable power to choose defaults or select which information is highlighted; it is up to them to wield this power to benefit the consumer rather than to increase their own profit.
Wrap-up: Interesting, thought-provoking, and highly recommended. 4.5/5*


  1. Libertarian paternalism ... wouldn't that be an oxymoron? :)

  2. They go to some lengths trying to prove it is not.