I recently finished Nudge, a book by economists about how to get people to change their behaviour. Before you drop off to sleep let me say – this book is fantastic.
The main point of the book (paraphrased) is as follows:
Since people don’t think very hard about the choices they make, it is a lot easier to make it easy for them to do what you want than to try to educate them or incentivize them to change their behaviour. There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is simply by giving thought to the way choices are available to them, or what they call “choice architecture.”
Many people in health and sport have tried to educate and inform, with little impact. The choice architects take a different approach: almost everyone opts for the default if a default is given. Thus, the answer is simply to make the default choice intelligently given what the choice architect knows about the person. The impact of savings behaviour from altering defaults swamps everything else.
Picking and choosing a few examples can’t convey what is most surprising about the book: it is really fun to read. Academics aren’t supposed to be able to write this well.
To give you a sense of the topics the book covers, here are just a few of the entries in the index:
ABBA, Gold: Greatest Hits, 194
accountability in schools, 200
air conditioners, filters for, 234
arousal, power of, 42
asbestos, warnings about, 189
Attila the Hun, 23-24
autopsies, corneas removed in, 177