Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Anyone who has taken a philosophy class or studied religion is probably familiar with the concept of free choice. On the surface, it seems like a very simple question: do individuals have free choice?

Your immediate reaction is probably affirmative. I have the choice to keep typing, but I also have the choice to stop typing or add unnecessary, punctuation. But as you dive deeper, things get more complicated. If we are simply atoms reacting to other atoms, what are the causes and what are the effects? On a macro (and more relatable) level, I choose what to eat for lunch everyday but why do I decide to eat foods that are undeniably bad for me? Why does the emotional side of my brain have greater sway than the logic side? What controls it? I surely don’t

Nudge is about the decisions we make. Our surroundings have a bigger impact on our decision making than we are willing to admit. Simple changes to our environment can have a huge impact both positively and negatively.

In this great book, Thaler and Sunstein walk us through the architectures of choice. They present the issues and provide possible solutions. From cafeterias to retirement plans to organ donors, this is a great book about how we can adjust environments to better our lives and the lives around us.

Of all the books on behavioral economics I have read, this is by far the most readable. The book is filled with practical understanding of concepts. This book is not about how we can control others, but how can we make better choices. Can nudges become a problem? Absolutely. I really appreciate the libertarian paternalism presented in the book.