Nudge : Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Hardback Book

Nudge : Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness Hardback

3 out of 5 (11 ratings)


Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion.

Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain in this important exploration of choice architecture, is that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder.

Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself.

Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given.

They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society.

Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful "choice architecture" can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Nudge offers a unique new take-from neither the left nor the right-on many hot-button issues, for individuals and governments alike.

This is one of the most engaging and provocative books to come along in many years.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 304 pages, 16 b-w illus.
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social theory
  • ISBN: 9780300122237

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Showing 1 - 5 of 11 reviews.

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Review by

I saw some summaries of ideas in this book and heard that they're popular among the economic advisors to the Obama campaign, so I picked up a copy to take a look.Thaler and Sunstein begin by acknowledging that the species <i>homo economicus</i>, Econs, are common to economists' theories, but their behavior is not that of <i>homo sapiens</i>, Humans. Since people do not always act in precise accordance with game theory, it behooves "choice architects" to take this into account when devising systems to serve Humans.They articulate an eloquent alternative to the "we know what's good for you and one size fits all" approach common to the left and the "every man for himself" approach common to the right. They advocate the level of choice expected of libertarian systems, but with default choices carefully architected to give good default results for people who, for whatever reason, don't do thorough research on maximizing the benefits from their array of opportunities. They also advocate mandates of transparency (so it is easy to get the data on how well you are being served) rather than mandates of performance (which are much more expensive to comply with, and can much more easily go drastically wrong if the proposed incentives turn out to be perverse).Overall, a fine starting point for policy discussions; I look forward to seeing these ideas take root in our government in the near future.

Review by

Remarkably accessible account of behavioral economics that makes many concrete applications to personal and political life--and sparks thinking about many more possibilities to make it easier for people not only to know what they'd like to do, but actually do it.

Review by

If you've never read in this field before and want a quick overview, it will be interesting reading. However, many of the experiments and anecdotes sounded awfully familiar to me. If you've already read books such as The Paradox of Choice, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, The Winner's Curse and Predictably Irrational, you could probably skip this one. I was also disappointed that there wasn't more in the book about organizing things to yourself positive nudges. I don't want to depend on an employer or government to point me in the right direction--by the time they start incorporating these ideas, years may have gone by!

Review by

This is just "improving decisions about..." on a macro level. You won't get any self-help from it, just potential policy ideas to lobby for. I went into the book with the impression that their political views were very similar to my own and that view didn't change. Some really interesting ideas to chew on and maybe work into conversations. And refreshingly low on the ideology and partisanship. No villains screamed about. We need more stuff this mellow. Some chapters seem more thought-out than others. The marriage discussion was practically incoherent, although I did pick up on a rather disturbing endorsement of alimony. And absent-minded ivory tower stereotypes aside, it's hard to believe they genuinely can't imagine what the argument would be against paying for organ donations. The idea of waiving liability rights in exchange for reduced healthcare costs was the most interesting section. The one on public school choice skirted too many of the standard arguments to feel very useful.

Review by

The book starts off well, but then perseverates on the author's formula for apparently solving world hunger (RECAP). This model is never fully explained and seems naive at the outset.

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