The original edition of the multimillion-copy New York Times bestseller by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein: a revelatory look at how we make decisions—for fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Economist and the Financial Times
Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion or the planet itself. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nudge is about how we make these choices and how we can make better ones. Using dozens of eye-opening examples and drawing on decades of behavioral science research, Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein show that no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way, and that we are all susceptible to biases that can lead us to make bad decisions. But by knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice.
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About the Author
Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, where he is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. He is by far the most cited law professor in the United States. From 2009 to 2012 he served in the Obama administration as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He has testified before congressional committees, appeared on national television and radio shows, been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations, and written many articles and books, including Simpler: The Future of Government, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter, The World According to Star Wars, and Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide. He is the recipient of the 2018 Holberg Prize, awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts, humanities, the social sciences, law, or theology.
Read an Excerpt
- The design of menus gets you to eat (and spend) more. For example, lining up all prices on either side of the menu leads many consumers to simply pick the cheapest item. On the other hand, discretely listing prices at the end of food descriptions lets people read about the appetizing options first…; and then see prices.
- "Flies" in urinals improve, well, aim. When Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was faced with the not uncommon issue of dirty urinals, they chose a unique solution: by painting "flies" in the (center of) commodes, men obligingly aimed at the insects, reducing spillage by 80 percent.
- Credit card minimum payments affect repayment schedules. Among those who only partially pay off credit card balances each month, the repayment level is correlated with the card's minimum payment — in other words, the lower the minimum payment, the longer it takes a consumer to pay off the card balance.
- Automatic savings programs increase savings rate. All over the country, companies are adopting 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 they get a raise. This plan has more than tripled saving rates in some firms, and is now offered by thousands of employers.
- "Defaults" can improve rates of organ donation. In the United States, about one–third of citizens have signed organ donor cards. Compare this to Austria, where 99 percent of people are potential organ donors. One obvious difference? Americans must explicitly consent to become organ donors (by signing forms, for example) while Austrians must opt out if they do not want to be organ donors.
Excerpted from "Nudge"
Copyright © 2009 Richard H. Thaler.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsNudgeAcknowledgments
Part I: Humans and Econs
1. Biases and Blunders
2. Resisting Temptation
3. Following the Herd
4.When Do We Need a Nudge?
5. Choice Architecture
Part II: Money
6. Save More Tomorrow
7. Naive Investing
8. Credit Markets
9. Privatizing Social Security: Smorgasbord Style
Part III: Health
10. Prescription Drugs: Part D for Daunting
11. How to Increase Organ Donations
12. Saving the Planet
Part IV: Freedom
13. Improving School Choices
14. Should Patients Be Forced to Buy Lottery Tickets?
15. Privatizing Marriage
Part V: Extensions and Objections
16. A Dozen Nudges
18. The Real Third Way
19. Bonus Chapter: Twenty More Nudges
Postscript: November 2008
What People are Saying About This
"Fundamentally changes the way I think about the world. . . . Academics aren't supposed to be able to write this well." —Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
"[An] utterly brilliant book. . . . Nudge won't nudge you-it will knock you off your feet." —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
"Nudge is as important a book as any I've read in perhaps twenty 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. If you're not interested in any of these topics, you can read something else." —Barry Schwartz, The American Prospect
"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 Moneyball
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.