25 June 2008

Book: Nudge

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Nudge
WorldChanging book review:

“Authored by two Univeristy of Chicago heavy-hitters, Economist Richard Thaler and Law Professor Cass Sunstein, Nudge explores the policy implications of behavioral economics, a field describing the irrationalities of human behavior. Taking findings from psychology (e.g. people procrastinate; they’re averse to losing money), Thaler and Sunstein propose policies to help us make the best decisions, in light of our irrational tendencies. In a classic example, they suggest we design 401k plans to require “opting-out” rather than “opting-in,” thus encouraging people to save by default. […]

Nudge goes beyond psychological research to suggest concrete ways to improve public policy in light of experimental findings.

Humans are bad at long-term planning: but what if cars came with stickers tallying the monthly cost of gas over the next five years: sticker shock might lead buyers to a more efficient car? Or what if we “nudged” people to conserve energy by showing how their energy use stacks up with that of neighbors?”

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