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Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  580 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Every day we make countless decisions, from the small, mundane things to tackling life’s big questions, but we don’t always make the right choices.

Behavioural scientist Dr David Halpern heads up Number 10’s ‘Nudge Unit’, the world’s first government institution that uses behavioural economics to examine and influence human behaviour, to ‘nudge’ us into making better decis
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published August 27th 2015 by Virgin Digital (first published May 7th 2015)
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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
For Aristotle, the pursuit of ‘eudaimonia’ – let’s call it happiness for the moment – was the ultimate objective in life, since all other goals, be they material or spiritual, were a means to this end. He saw it as a distinguishing feature of humans that we could use our reasoning to choose actions that would attain this state: seeing through momentary pleasures, or discomforts, to fashion a life of virtue, intellectual curiosity and friendship, and through these attain a deep sense of what we
Sarah Clement
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it
There's a lot of useful and interesting information in here, but I didn't feel like it provided me with a lot more insight than Nudge or Nudge, Nudge, Think Think. Like some other readers, I was disappointed to see that it didn't really offer any more insight into the operation of the Nudge unit than previous books, which would have offered something distinct and interesting. As with all books on behaviour change, I am always skeptical about how long the impact of interventions last, and in gene ...more
Jay Hennessey
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
Thought provoking read - 3.5+stars

I really liked this book - it was really interesting to hear the details of the Behavioral Insight Team. One of the leadership / behavioral takeaways is that if you want to make a change, think EAST - Easy, Attractive, Social (show that everyone is doing it) and Time (when most receptive).

The book is full of great examples and adds to much of what I have read in other books on the topic (Nudge by Thaler; Work Rules by Laszlo Bock)

I recommend this book to leader
Harald Groven
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of inspiring case studies from the UK on how to use behavioural science to make government more efficient without sacrificing either citizens' freedom nor money.
Good intro to the EAST framework (make services Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely).

Reads like a business book, except that its change in the government sector, not the private sector that is encouraged. Lots of practical advice on both political, administrative, psychological factors on how to make policies evidence based.
Peter Dunn
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, both in terms of the technique and in how the UK government (in particular) began to use nudging. It is very welcome that that this recent edition of the book also at least attempts to engage with the concept and dangers of negative nudging (as might be seen in some recent votes in the UK and US) – sadly however the book has no answer to this other than a plea to nudge nicely….
Stephan Hogenboom
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: behaviour
I read this book after reading Nudge and Thinking slow & fast. It adds little in terms of behavioural insights. It does add policy to the equation ...more
Rob Thompson
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical, non-fiction
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), also known unofficially as the "Nudge Unit", is an organisation that was set up to apply nudge theory (behavioural economics and psychology) to try to improve government policy and services as well as to save the UK government money.

Originally set up as a team within the Cabinet Office, it is now a limited company, Behavioural Insights Limited. It is headed by psychologist David Halpern. Although specific ideas devised by BIT have been imitated in several oth
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s okay. Interesting enough. It seems to be setting out to reassure the public and convince government that nudge theory is a good thing, and thus Halpern goes through how it works (very interesting) and why it should be done (less interesting), giving quite a few examples - although he does tend to repeat some of the examples (eg the tax letter). In fact, the repetition is one of my criticisms - he labours his message, but is in danger of losing it among what sometimes feels like waffle (not ...more
Jul 18, 2020 marked it as to-read
As a multiple degree qualified psychologist (in between getting earth science and history degrees), I'm interested in reading this, but I've ordered it from the library as I refuse to give these people a penny. They are no longer a government unit (set up by the Conservatives in 2010 to "direct behaviour") but a private limited company. I suppose this means they are consultants.

It's just that there's a dark side to nudging your citizens. For example this government campaign.

Grace Dickinson
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few of the chapters I found to be a bit repetitive and got a bit lost in empirical data and experimental facts and figures, however as a whole the concept of the book really intrigued me. Of particular interest to me was the chapter on happiness and well-being: examining the keys to our own happiness and how we can make conscious choices to work towards that- and aim policies to encourage it. My favorite inquiry the book makes: we measure GDP so closely, yet we still don't have mechanisms to m ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very enjoyable and fascinating. Even though my own personal politics takes a typically dim view of government interference in society, this was a superb book detailing the life of the BIT and the persuasion techniques used to deliver improved results.

Whether pro-nudge or sceptical of nudging, its one of the best in genre that I've read.

Though the term 'libertarian paternalism' is an offense to the language of political philosophy, this is just classic paternalism done with a bit of thinking.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked the book in the beginning, with fun and inspiring ways to nudge (and not force by penalising or rewarding) people to improve. The focus in on governmental ways for this, with examples from the writer's experience in the UK.
But the book lost me a bit in the second half, it seemed repetitive and not adding new insights and information. Also, which was to be expected, it is very Anglo-Saxon, and while it acknowledges that, the writer seems to dismiss the other options and complexitie
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is a book with a very interesting subject matter - behavioural science. However, I am a bit disappointed the book is a bit different than what I thought it would be. I thought it would cover more the actual science part but as it turns out it is more about the history of how behavioural science become mainstream in government worldwide. It is still interesting nonetheless but just quite a bit different than what I expected.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a very good book about the emerging field of behavioral economics, and how it's being applied in public policy. Some chapters are more anecdotal and more for the reader who is interested how politics work and how to set up a political team/institution can be really tough, and other chapters -- those I was much more interested in -- are very informative with lots of info about behavioral economics in public policy.
Joris Gillet
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I mean it's not a bad book but on behavioural economics there are countless of other books out there that describe the material covered here just as well if not better/more in depth. This book focuses more on the political process of getting the British government to accept and use insights from behavioural science (and creating the BIT/Nudge unit) which is interesting if you're into that kind of thing. I found it a bit boring.
Rick Yagodich
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall, this is a solid, well-researched book on behavioural insights (being, as it is, an account of the UK government's Behavioural Insights Team, by the man who lead said team). However, that solidity isn't enough to keep the four stars it could ahve earned. The simple reason is that it is slightly repetitive and meanders more than it needs to. The whole could ahve easily been edited to be 40% shorter, while packing a greater punch, without losing any meaning.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting book on how govt in UK tried to nudge people to pay taxes on time, get people back to work quicker, save for their pension etc. All based on simple nudges partly due to austerity measures and Govt savings-Brought book as research as originally tried to get a post in their unit and intersting reading of how and why unit was set up and what does and doesn't work as well as the ethical issues raised by nudging
Santosh Shevade
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Quite a bit of repetition; read more like a pop general interest book rather than something with insights. most of the case studies are laid out in a similar fashion-problem stated, general discourse about the problem, one 'nudge' and problem solved. very little is said about the impact in long term.
Maciek Wilczyński
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing introduction to behavioral economics, written by one of the best scientists in the discipline -Richard Thaler. Funny, contains anecdotes and real life examples. One of these books, which changed my interests and made me a huge fan of behavioral economics.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: work
If you have any interest in this area you'll already be familiar with the background theory and many of the case studies. Nevertheless, it's an engaging overview of how UK government began to embrace behavioural science. Some fascinating insights into the workings of Whitehall too.
Jos Voskuil
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
The topic is interesting and could have been explained in 50 % of the book.
The examples are nice to see (many of them were known to me - not sure for others)

At the end just confirming that human beings again do not act in a logical way but have their (emotional) brain as handicap ?
Peter Gasston
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, non-fiction
Interesting, rather than fascinating.
Robert Crow
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Adds a dimension to the other "nudge" books.
Interesting read. Great to learn about ways in which it is possible to subtly influence behaviour, and how the government has actually been using these insights. Social pschology in action.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent introduction to the tools of behavioural economics and history of the BIU in the U.K. Fascinating examples and insights including many you can use in your own life and work.
Miriam Williams
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read for work. Interesting principles.
Jules Arntz-Gray
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for public policy regulators.
Alex Taylor
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Slightly overlong but some thought provoking and very useful stuff in here.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok

Nudge but for UK policy wonks. Decent but undistinguished, lots of detail about how Whitehall does and doesn't work.
Chen Ann Siew
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Recommended for anyone who’s interested in the real world applications of Behavioural science especially in public policy.
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