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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,478 Ratings  ·  1,243 Reviews
Nudge is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and s ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Trevor
This one took me longer to read that is reasonable for a book of its length or the clear style it is written in. I mean, such a simply written text of 250 pages ought to have finished in no time. The problem was that I don’t live in the US and so many of the examples made the book a struggle for me. All the same, there are ideas in this book that are important no matter where you live.

Don’t you just love the internet? I wanted to start this paragraph with that quote by Göring, “when I hear the w
...more
Anya
Oct 18, 2009 Anya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand why this is a runaway bestseller--it's just not that enthralling. I've been reading lots of books lately about behavioral psychology and economics: why people make the decisions we do, economically and in other life areas. But Predictably Irrational and Made to Stick both explore these questions in a much more engaging way.

"Nudge" is mostly concerned with how companies and governments can practice what the authors term "libertarian paternalism"--gently, noncoercively pushing p
...more
Malcolm
Jan 09, 2012 Malcolm rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This comes with a whole bunch of big name endorsements – the physicist Brian Appleyard, Stephen Leavitt (of Freakanomics fame) and we’re told by the end of Introduction that it is making an impact with Obama and Cameron and so having a policy impact in both the UK and USA. What is more, it is now marketed as a ‘new international edition’. As I ploughed my way through this I kept thinking of a comment by the great photographer Eve Arnold to the effect (and with a few more expletives) that she was ...more
David
Oct 22, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
This is a terrific book. The authors cover terrain which has been explored recently in a whole slew of books: loosely speaking, why we humans persistently engage in behavior patterns which do not benefit us in the long term. Their own research, at the University of Chicago, builds upon the work of Tversky and Kahneman in behavioral economics (very much in vogue this past few years).

In the book, they provide a funny, engaging, remarkably clear exposition of the various factors which lead us to m
...more
Lobstergirl
Nov 15, 2015 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok
Shelves: got-rid-of, economics

Libertarians are always annoying, and these two are no exception. Their particular brand of libertarianism they call "libertarian paternalism" and it involves the idea of "nudges," which are things/designs/incentives that push people toward "better" options. "Better" options would include: choosing healthfullier food, not smoking, not driving drunk, enrolling in your company 401(k) plan vs. not enrolling, lessening your factory's carbon emissions. An example of libertarian paternalism of which t
...more
Chris
Aug 18, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I second-guessed my purchase of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, almost the minute I received my Amazon e-mail receipt -- I had already read Malcom Gladwell's Blink, and heard about the literary disaster that is Sway, and yet there I was, reading Nudge's introduction about the arrangement of cafeteria food.

I'm glad I did. While Thaler and Sunstein are happy to revel in the small ways that their insights into "choice architecture"
...more
Nina
Jun 30, 2008 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like a lot of the ideas presented in this book. I completely agree with their major points - that policies should pay close attention to the default option, and that one of the most effective ways of helping people make good decisions is complete and clearly presented disclosure. I know I complained that Ariely's book didn't take his theories far enough because he didn't talk about the implications of people's predictable irrationality, but now I'm going to complain that this book focus ...more
lyell bark
I did not find this book very helpful in Improving Decisious About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Hardcover) at all. I would rank it only one star, but in the midst of all the typical Ivy League gabbldeegook i found this truely inspired passage:

contemplation and hard abstract study belong to Saturn who is also the planet of the melancholy temperament, and the star which is inimical to the vital forces of life and youth. Melancholy students who have used up their vital forces in their studies, an
...more
Steven Peterson
Jan 09, 2011 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting work. . . . It speaks of how conditions can be changed and perhaps improved by "nudging" people. Rather than "beating up" on people, subtly nudge them. Fascinating reading and very provocative. Is nudging good? Or manipulative?

The authors, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, faculty at the University of Chicago, define a “nudge” as (Page 6): “. . .is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significant
...more
Loy Machedo
Oct 17, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

I love reading book.
Books on Thought-Provoking, Critical-Thinking, Cognitive Science, Business, Biographies, Self-Improvement and so on. But the most important characteristic I admire and love about a book, is its ability to make something simple and understandable.

Nudge is one book that fails to qualify the last criteria.

I presumed that this book was in relation to how we think, how the mind works and connect that to
...more
Christen
Feb 28, 2011 Christen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I probably shouldn't rate and review a book I didn't make it all the way through, but I found myself getting more and more angry the further I went into this book. I liked the first part, where the authors discussed choice architecture generally. However, they then went on to discuss many choice architecture issues in a manner I found confusing. Two examples seem appropriate to consider. The authors seem to find fault with the way student loans are done. They seem to criticize schools for select ...more
Femina Ernest
Jan 27, 2016 Femina Ernest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nudge - A Catalyst to change human routine Blunders. Thaler and Sunstein invite us to experience a new world like a Harry Potter Movie. Instead of Magic, Here he guides us with "Choice Architecture" pattern, which can help us to decide better and proceed smarter. I can say it's a proactive book. I like Parts like Money, Freedom among I love Author's intelligent case studies and explanations of "Save More Tomorrow, Choice Architecture, Saving the planet etc". When he talks about Dozen Nudges, I l ...more
Terry
Feb 17, 2009 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: policy wonks
Recommended to Terry by: I think it was Ars Technica
The book focuses on cases where simple changes in choice architecture (how people are exposed to options) can create significant changes in behavior. The authors immediately recognize this could be used "for evil" as it were or against the chooser such as arranging food in a cafeteria so kids buy more high margin foods but most of the cases revolve around "stove" examples. Stove cases are where slight changes in presentation create a good situation for the user like stove burner arrangements. No ...more
Ensiform
Apr 06, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, brain
The authors, both economists at University of Chicago, advocate what they call “paternal libertarianism” in order to improve an equal footing for all in the areas of health care, marriage, taxes, and so on, without impinging on freedom any more than absolutely necessary. They argue, reasonably, that everyone with a stake in an issue or a semblance of power is, whether they like it or not, a change architect – that even not interfering and allowing totally laissez-faire markets to evolve is still ...more
Jeremy Kauffman
Oct 28, 2010 Jeremy Kauffman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a well-written book. The writing is prosaic. The pacing is meh. You will almost certainly have no trouble putting it down. It is, however, a book almost everyone should read - especially politicians, technocrats, and others in positions of public policy.

Sunstein and Thaler argue that dramatic changes in human behavior can be effected through sensible changes in "choice architecture". Choice architecture is the orchestration of options. It can range from how choices are presented (mak
...more
Angie
May 23, 2010 Angie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This book was recommended as an introduction to libertarian paternalism in a lecture on behavioral economics by Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman. Per wikipedia, libertarian paternalism is "a
political philosophy that believes the state can help you make the choices you would make for yourself—if only you had the strength of will and the sharpness of mind. But unlike 'hard' paternalists, who ban some things and mandate others, the softer kind aims only to skew your decisions, without infringing
...more
Suz
Apr 30, 2011 Suz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not what I thought it would be.

I somehow thought it would be about how to improve decision *making* for, say, yourself (which would impact things like Health, Wealth, and Happiness), but it was about choice architecture and how to frame choices to make people choose what you think they should choose.

Which might have been interesting if that's what the book covered. There was a little bit about "choice architecture" in the beginning, but nothing that extended further than common sens
...more
John Martindale
The book started off well enough, grabbing my interest and convincing me that libertarian paternalism has a lot going for it. If the masses are going to be influenced by their unconscious to make irrational and stupid choices, some minor tweaks could be made, that result in the unthinking majority mindlessly do positive things for their health, wallet, humanity and the planet, though they're still free to do otherwise (thus the Libertarian part). An example given was how the amount of dessert ea ...more
Sean McKenna
Nudge falls into the (large) category of non-fiction books where the key points are made in the first 50-100 pages and the remainder of the book is made up of examples of varying quality intended to drive home the point.

In this case, the key point concerns the notion of "choice architecture" or the impact of defaults, information disclosure, and alignment of incentives to improve our ability to make complex decisions despite rarely performing a full rational analysis on them. The authors argue
...more
Kate
Feb 07, 2014 Kate rated it it was ok
From the beginning I wasn't a huge fan. The tone is patronizing, and the first few chapters are a rehash of every other pop-econ book I've ever read. I kept going because of the Economist's "Best Book" label, and because of the complimentary blurb from one of the authors of Freakonomics.

I felt all along that the book had a heavy corporate bias, but kept reading because the initial explanation of choice architecture had been so interesting. I started getting irritated when cap-and-trade measures
...more
Thomas Edmund
May 06, 2012 Thomas Edmund rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would be unfair to label Nudge as 'one of those pop-psychology books' as a. I frown on pop psychology and rate Nudge higher, and b. I'm trying not to generalise.

What I'm trying to say is Nudge fits into the same category as other insightful books such as Gladwell's Blink, or the recent Redirect

[[ASIN:0316010669 Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking]]

[[ASIN:0316051888 Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change]]

Beginning with a non-partisan disclaimer Nudge explores t
...more
Orton Family Foundation
If you’re like most Americans, chances are you made a New Year’s resolution to hit the gym, lay off the smokes or eat more green vegetables. And again, if you’re anything like most Americans, chances are you and your resolution parted ways sometime around Valentine’s Day. Take heart: you’re not alone, and it’s not that you actually want to spend more hours watching sitcom reruns—you just need a nudge.

Most humans are remarkably bad at making choices in their own best interest. We make predictable
...more
Jamie
Mar 12, 2010 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The full title here is Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and between them the two authors, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, can claim a substantial amount of expertise in psychology, economics, law, and public policy. The stated goal of the book is to take lessons from these four areas and squish them into a concept that the authors dub "libertarian paternalism." The idea is that as libertarians the two believe in free information and free choice in all things publ ...more
Harkinna
Jul 09, 2010 Harkinna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who couldn’t use a little help accomplishing a pesky goal every now and again? I know I need help sometimes to get going on a story or making it to the gym. Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (of the University of Chicago) wrote the book as a manifesto to “improve decisions about health, wealth, and happiness.” Seeking to foster what they call a new movement of “libertarian paternalism,” the idea of the book melds individual freedom with the promotion by government of socially optimal de ...more
Sindy Li
Feb 02, 2013 Sindy Li rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, psychology
This is a great book! It's one of those books that applies the idea of System 1 (automative/intuitive) and System 2 (reflective/"reasoning") from psychology, and in this particular case it's applied to "choice architecture"--the design of frameworks/structures that affect people's choices over pretty much anything (another good example of this type of book is Jonathan Heidt's "The Happiness Hypothesis" which applies the System 1 and System 2 idea to help us understand and promote individual flou ...more
Viola
Sep 20, 2010 Viola rated it liked it
As an economist, Nudge was a book that I desperately wanted to like. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Perhaps my low rating of the book stems from my high expectations of a book co-authored by the well-regarded behavioral economist Richard Thaler. Without such expectations, my rating might have been higher. But at the same time, without such expectations, I might not have bothered to read the book at all.

The only interesting part of the book is the first part, which consists of the first five
...more
Matt
Oct 06, 2009 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little torn-- I feel like I've read a lot of the stories from the psych section before, probably in _Freakanonics_ because I'm not a regular reader of pop economics texts, and it creates a(n unfounded?) suspicion that if you need to refer to one anecdote whenever you try to demonstrate a point, that one story is more exceptional than representative. I also felt like the actual wonky policy sections of this book-- the section on school choice, malpractice reform, and marriage-- were the wea ...more
Arron Kallenberg
Nov 04, 2013 Arron Kallenberg rated it really liked it
I read Nudge because Daniel Kahneman talked about it in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," which was excellent. Nudge is good, although it is not nearly as dense (or rich) as Kahneman's book. However, it is still thematically similar. Furthermore, Nudge focuses more on the practical application of many psychological theories (including those pioneered by Kahneman) and less on the and inter-workings of the theories themselves. Where Kahneman is painstakingly conveying the results of many decades ...more
Jafar
Jan 23, 2010 Jafar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boring, but what else can you expect from business schools? These behavioral economists have all been reading the same social psychology books and tell you the same thing. You can be sure that very quickly in the book you’ll be receiving first-hand, fresh-off-the-research information about anchoring and framing. And it’s hilarious that these days everybody writes a preface or postscript for their book and tries to explain the financial crisis of 2008 with what the book is saying.

The big idea of
...more
Caitlin
This is one of those books that I found myself wanting to talk about while I'm reading it, sharing anecdotes about school vouchers and insurance plans. It's the kind of book I'm glad to have read - I'm much more aware of how much context can affect my decisions and of the importance of good defaults. That being said, it was also the kind of book that had me looking at the page number I was on and thinking about how many I had left. It wasn't as fun a read as say Freakonomics. (In its defense, I ...more
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  • Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
  • Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
  • Micromotives and Macrobehavior
  • Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism
  • The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
  • Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
  • The Wisdom of Crowds
  • Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
  • Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do
  • Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change
  • Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals  How to Think Differently
  • Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Den tist
  • Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart
  • Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion
  • Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
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Richard H. Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business where he director of the Center for Decision Research. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research where he co-directs the behavioral economics project. Professor Thaler's research lies in the gap ...more
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“A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions.” 4 likes
“Libertarian paternalism is a relatively weak, soft, and nonintrusive type of paternalism because choices are not blocked, fenced off, or significantly burdened.” 3 likes
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