Category: Non-fiction (Economics / Psychology)
Rating: ★★★ (2.5…rounded up)
Synopsis (Goodreads): Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion or the planet itself. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nudge is about how we make these choices and how we can make better ones. Using dozens of eye-opening examples and drawing on decades of behavioral science research, Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein show that no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way, and that we are all susceptible to biases that can lead us to make bad decisions. But by knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice.
I’m on the fence for this one, and I have to admit it’s an uncomfortable place to be. I really, really wanted to like this book. I have been fascinated by behavioral economics ever since I read Thinking, Fast and Slow, and I have to admit that set a pretty high bar.
With Nudge, I really enjoyed the behavioral psychology element (the first 5 chapters if you just want to selectively read), but the case studies and application were too US-centric (although the authors do consider some European examples occasionally), which I struggled with and often found my mind wandering. It also felt too long, which given the book is only ~250 pages should indicate how some of the chapters dragged…bad job editor, bad job.
Therefore, although the core ideas of how our decisions are affected by the ‘nudges’ around us, and how we can use the principles of libertarian paternalism to design better choices, are interesting, there are better written and more engaging books in the genre out there.
A short (albeit not so sweet) review. Unlike the book.