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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness [Hardcover]

Richard H Thaler , Cass R Sunstein
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
Price: 18.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 May 2008
Every day we make decisions on topics ranging from the personal investments we select to the schools we pick for our children to the foods we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, as authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein astutely observe, we don't always choose well. The reason, the authors explain, is that we all are susceptible to cognitive biases and blunders that make us human, fallible, and prone to error. Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that recognizes our humanness as a given. They show that the way we think can be used to our advantage: it is possible to design environments that make it more likely for us to act in our own interests. Using colourful examples from all aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how 'choice architecture' can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting the full menu of choices available to us. Nudge offers a unique new take, from neither the left nor the right, on many current issues, and is one of the most engaging and provocative books to come along in years.

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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness + Thinking, Fast and Slow + Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (13 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300122233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300122237
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'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


'Hugely influential .... choice architects are everywhere' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nudge in time 13 April 2010
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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212 of 221 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Applying behavioural economics 31 July 2008
By tomsk77
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull and not aimed at the general reader.
Borrowed this book from a friend and happened to borrow Bad Science at the same time. Bad Science is a very good book and the first third or so of Nudge is a review of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lain
4.0 out of 5 stars Good summing up of a field becoming part of marketing's armoury
(This review is of the Kindle edition) When the book first emerged in the UK it was taken up by professional politicians - seeking what Winston Churchill called "the art of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chris Worth
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and informative read!
Thaler and Sunstein do a great job creating a fair picture of current nudging techniques and the underlying theory as well as point to a few areas where nudging might be applied... Read more
Published 3 months ago by MLS
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Interesting, funny and a genuine page turner. It makes you look at the world in an entirely new way than before
Published 4 months ago by Eoin
1.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for beginners
I expected a more informed essay on how to motivate people. A good starter book for school children interested in the subject but there is nothing new or inspired in the pages. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Benjamin J J Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings together some interesting points
Most of the content of this book is covered elsewhere - ("Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman" is a better read) but the book brings together some interesting points... Read more
Published 7 months ago by P. Bulmer
3.0 out of 5 stars Nudge: improving...
Some good ideas, nothing new. A bit too American for me. Maybe if you are American it's slightly less dull? I did find it dull, repetitive, could have been rather shorter. Read more
Published 7 months ago by cross-chrissy
5.0 out of 5 stars Nudge
This is the classic, as used by politicians and other aspiring go getters. I enjoyed the insights and haven't looked back either!
Published 8 months ago by roger
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A great little book for anyone interested in how behviour can be nudged or decision making generally, would recommend it.
Published 8 months ago by Kimberley Hill
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