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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness Paperback – 5 Mar 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141040017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141040011
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'All the rage ... the issue is not "to nudge or not to nudge"; it is how to nudge well' -- Matthew Taylor, Daily Telegraph

'Hot stuff ... an idea whose time seems to have come' -- Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

'Hugely influential .... choice architects are everywhere' -- Andrew Sparrow, Guardian

Review

'Hugely influential .... choice architects are everywhere'

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By PaperPanther on 13 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Drinking Pernod in Paris watching the Seine and the world flowing by makes you feel good enough to take a whole duty free bottle of the stuff home with you. Which if you've ever tried it, you'll know is a big mistake. Pernod tastes good in Paris, or maybe elsewhere in France, because we Brits like not so much the actual drink as the context in which we consume it. But at home...

Context is the main theme of Thaler and Sunstein's `Nudge'. The authors believe that by organising the context of a situation or environment where choices have to be made that those choices can be influenced in positive (or negative) ways. Enough has already written about this book for me not to go on for too long about it. Published mid-2008, it's become the book for public service and care organisations to read and quote from - and act upon, no doubt - liberally.

But for me it's the sort of book that agency planners will have on their desks and from which they'll stick neat little quotes on their PowerPoint presentations. Like something from Gladwell's Tipping Point or Blink.

There are some lovely opening touches in this book. Such as the default setting on phones which leads most people to believe this is the `best one', the one which the manufacturer `recommends', so they leave the settings be. In the same way, a default option which automatically enrolls workers into an employee healthcare scheme or pension fund, rather than through coercion, also works well. It demonstrates the innate inertia that human beings have at heart.
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215 of 224 people found the following review helpful By Norberto Amaral on 3 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
I can't help thinking that the authors could very easily written the book in less than 5 pages. Much of it is little more than a collage of work which you can find in the likes of 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell (namely, the story about the Yale students who were more likely to go get vaccinated against tetanus if the brochure showed the map to the medical office) and 'Undercover Economist' and 'The Logic of Life' by Tim Harford (since most of both books rave about free markets and response to incentives) as well as many others of that 'genre'.

No new concepts are introduced in this work - okay, I hadn't heard about 'libertarian paternalism' but even that is only a new name for a very old concept - think about Milton Friedman and you're not far - and 'choice architect' is nothing but a fancy name for what designers do since forever - be it store designers, systems analysts or commercial managers.

You don't believe me? Well, here's a list of topics from the book. See if they really sound new to you:
1. Arrangement of items in a cafeteria (read: any restaurant or shop) influences the choices made by customers. Doesn't explain how, though it's perfectly obvious that it does.
2. Although 'pure' free market followers believe that perfect information will be used by people to make perfect choices, many people just can't or won't. The authors call these people 'Humans' and 'Econs' to those people who make perfect decisions.
3. Biases such as anchoring, availability, representativeness, status quo, framing (think about lawyers) and the feeling of loss being higher than if you win something.
4. Clocky is a vicious little wake-up clocks that runs around your bedroom until you get up and shut it down.
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107 of 117 people found the following review helpful By tomsk77 on 31 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
Whilst I don't know if this book is quite as significant as is being made out, it's a nice and straightforward primer on behavioural economics and some of its applications.

The first section sets the scene for why nudges - policy interventions that encourage rather than mandate certain types of behaviour - may be necessary. So it builds up the argument for why we aren't the rational self-maximizers that economics has tended to assume we are. This section includes a useful run-through of some of the key heuristics and biases that have been identified and what kind of outcomes they result in. This does provide a pretty good overview of some of the major factors like anchoring, availability, representativeness, loss aversion and so on. It also stresses the importance of the design of choice, or choice architecture, and that in many cases there is no option to be 'neutral' - some kind of structure of choices has to be offered.

The second section is about financial issues, so much of this is familiar ground if you know much about recent pension reform. Still the points are worth reiterating. If you auto-enrol people into a pension most tend not to opt-out. Whereas if you don't auto-enrol many don't join. This, combined with what non-savers say themselves, suggests that non-savers aren't making a rational choice not to save. People also adopt naive diversificaton strategies - the equity content of their asset allocation (if they have made an active choice) will be heavily influenced by the allocations of the funds on offer (and what stocks are popular at the time) and what's more people don't tend to shift their initial allocation. Also it seems pretty clear less in more in fund choices - too many options puts us off choosing.
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