What Shapes Your Choices?
We may assume our deeply held beliefs and preferences drive our decisions, but choice architecture reveals that our behavior is profoundly influenced by the way decisions are described and how options are presented.
By understanding the influence of these forces, we can design situations to help nudge ourselves toward decisions that are better aligned with our goals and values, creating clear paths toward a happier and healthier life.
Nudges can be remarkably powerful applications of choice architecture. By employing strategies that take advantage of the human tendency to be predictably irrational, nudges have helped people choose actions that can improve their health, relationships, finances, and communities.
Of course, nudges can also be used against you. Sludge makes it harder for you to do what is in your best interest, such as when a service makes it hard to cancel a membership, hides important information in confusing fine print, or persuades you to pay for an add-on you don’t need.
Understanding how nudges work can give you the tools to get past sludge and reach your goals.
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Further Readings: The Science behind the Exhibit
The real-world applications of choice architecture are numerous and varied, each employing different tactics to nudge people toward behavior that aligns with their goals and preferences.
- Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2009). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.
- Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2016). For the fun of it: Harnessing immediate rewards to increase persistence in long-term goals. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(6), 952–966.
- Goswami, I., & Urminsky, O. (2016). When should the ask be a nudge? The effect of default amounts on charitable donations. Journal of Marketing Research, 53(5), 829–846.
- Richard H. Thaler, Behavioral economics from nuts to ‘nudges’
- Imas, A., Kuhn, M., & Mironova, V. (2021). Waiting to Choose: The Role of Deliberation in Intertemporal Choice. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.
- Dean, J. T., & Jayachandran, S. (2019, May). Changing family attitudes to promote female employment. In AEA Papers and Proceedings (Vol. 109, pp. 138–42).
- Sussman, A. B., & Olivola, C. Y. (2011). Axe the tax: Taxes are disliked more than equivalent costs. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(SPL), S91–S101.