Book Review – “Nudge” by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

“Nudge” is a fabulous book. It is informative, thought-provoking, and fun – everything you’d hope to find in a good read. Falling into the broad category of behavioral economics, it describes and explains the power of nudges to make people happier and healthier – as measured by themselves.

The authors’ movement – libertarian paternalism – is one that can be embraced by many people. It is a system of choice where the decision is left completely up to individuals (the libertarian part), but with mild nudges (the paternalistic part) from choice architects (those who set up the context of the choices). The goal, for the choice architect, is for costs to be zero, or as close to zero as possible, for those who would rather not have the default option, while setting a default that is beneficial – as measured by those who choose it or have it thrust upon them due to lack of choosing. Of course, sometimes the choice architect won’t allow for any default, and will insist upon forced choosing.

Almost everyone will be a choice architect at some point, and we are all affected by choice architects around us. This book enables us both to help others, and ourselves, make better decisions.

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