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167 Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein: Nudge

By understanding how people make decisions, policymakers and organizations can “nudge” individuals towards making better choices that lead to improved outcomes for themselves and society.

Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein: Nudge


"Nudge" explores the principles of behavioral economics and offers practical strategies for designing policies and systems that help individuals make better decisions without taking away their freedom of choice.


Title: "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness"

Authors: Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

Publishing Year: 2008

Publisher: Penguin Books

Length in Hours: 10 hours and 35 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. People's decisions are influenced by the way choices are presented and the context in which they are made.
  2. Small changes in the environment, or "nudges," can help individuals make better decisions without restricting their freedom of choice.
  3. The default option often has a powerful effect on decision-making.
  4. The use of social norms and social proof can nudge people towards desired behaviors.
  5. Nudges can be used to address a range of societal challenges, from improving health outcomes to promoting energy conservation.
Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein: Nudge

5 funny quotes

  1. "Nudges are like Google Maps for decision-making."
  2. "If you want people to take the stairs, put some catchy music and a disco ball in the stairwell."
  3. "Nudges are like Jedi mind tricks, but for good."
  4. "The best way to get someone to do something is to make it the easiest thing to do."
  5. "Nudging is like giving people a gentle push in the right direction, without actually touching them."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates."
  2. "Whenever choice architecture affects outcomes, there is a choice architecture problem."
  3. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron. It is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behavior while also respecting freedom of choice."
  4. "One of the most important lessons of behavioral economics is that context matters, and that seemingly small details can have big impacts on people's behavior."
  5. "The key to making better decisions is not to think harder but to think differently."

5 dilemmas

  1. How do you balance nudges that benefit society as a whole with the potential for them to be manipulative or even harmful to some individuals?
  2. How do you ensure that nudges are implemented in a transparent and ethical way, without hidden agendas or biases?
  3. How do you measure the effectiveness of nudges, and how do you know when to pivot or adjust them?
  4. How do you address the tension between nudges and personal responsibility, where individuals may resist or reject the nudge due to a desire for autonomy or control?
  5. How do you scale nudges beyond individual or localized contexts, to address larger societal challenges or global issues?

5 examples

  1. The UK government used a nudge in 2015 by adding a message on tax letters that showed how much of the money would go to good causes.
  2. Google nudges its employees towards healthy eating by making it easier to choose healthy food options in their cafeterias.
  3. The Amsterdam Airport Schiphol reduced the amount of paper towels used in their restrooms by placing a nudge encouraging visitors to use fewer towels.
  4. The city of Chicago used nudges to reduce littering in its parks by painting footprints leading to trash cans and adding signs saying "Pitch In."
  5. The US Department of Agriculture nudged people towards healthier food choices by reorganizing the food options in school cafeterias.

Referenced books

  1. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini 
  2. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman 
  3. "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely 
  4. "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell 
  5. "Nudges, Nudging, and Health: Choice Architecture in Public Health" edited by I. Glenn Cohen, Holly Fernandez Lynch, and Christopher T. Robertson 


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"The best way to get someone to do something is to make it the easiest thing to do."

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