Nudge's notes, summary and lessons

By Richard H Thaler & Cass R Sunstein

Rating: 9/10

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  • In many domains, the evidence shows that, within reason, the more you ask for, the more you tend to get. Lawyers who sue cigarette companies often win astronomical amounts, in part because they have successfully induced juries to anchor on multimillion-dollar figures. Clever negotiators often get amazing deals for their clients by producing an opening offer that makes their adversary thrilled to pay half that very high amount.

    Page: 27
  • A good way to increase people’s fear of a bad outcome is to remind them of a related incident in which things went wrong; a good way to increase people’s confidence is to remind them of a similar situation in which everything worked out for the best. The pervasive problems are that easily remembered events may inflate people’s probability judgments, and that if no such events come to mind, their judgments of likelihoods might be distorted downward.

    Page: 28
  • Framing works because people tend to be somewhat mindless, passivedecision makers. Their Reflective System does not do the work that wouldbe required to check and see whether reframing the questions would pro-duce a different answer. One reason they don’t do this is that theywouldn’t know what to make of the contradiction.

    Page: 40
  • One reason why people expend so much effort conforming to social norms and fashions is that they think that others are closely paying attention to what they are doing.

    Page: 65
  • In many domains people are tempted to think, after the fact, that an outcome was entirely predictable, and that the success of a musician, an actor, an author, or a politician was inevitable in light of his or her skills and characteristics. Beware of that temptation. Small interventions and even coincidences, at a key stage, can produce large variations in the outcome. Today’s hot singer is probably indistinguishable from dozens and even hundreds of equally talented performers whose names you’ve never heard. We can go further. Most of today’s governors are hard to distinguish from dozens or even hundreds of politicians whose candidacies badly fizzled.

    Page: 67
  • If you want to nudge people into socially desirable behaviour, do not, by any means, let them know that their current actions are better than the social norm.

    Page: 74
  • For all their virtues, markets often give companies a strong incentive to cater to (and profit from) human frailties, rather than to try to eradicate them or to minimize their effects.

    Page: 79
  • Self-control issues are most likely to arise when choices and their consequences are separated in time.

    Page: 80
  • [...] if, for a given choice, there is a default option — an option that will obtain if the chooser does nothing — then we can expect a large number of people to end up with that option, whether or not it is good for them. And as we have also stressed, these behavioral tendencies toward doing nothing will be reinforced if the default option comes with some implicit or explicit suggestion that it represents the normal or even the recommended course of action.

    Page: 93
  • The more choices you give to people, the more help with decision making you need to provide.

    Page: 163
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