Nudge | Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Nudge | Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

🎨 Impressions

It turned out to be a great disappointment. Nothing practical, plenty of words and nothing to apply in my context. Mostly they discuss various governmental regulations and what should be done and why. As if authors both in the administration of a president.

How I Discovered It

Have been looking for ways of creating a problem space for students, stumbled over an article [[Nudging in teaching]].

Who Should Read It?

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

📒 Ideas

  • Modern algorithms nowadays are using choice engine principles.
    • Which operate according to our previous choices.
    • Amazon, YouTube, etc.

Choice architect

  • The most precious idea from the book is that in order to become a great teacher, you have to be an architect of decisions that children make.
    • The same principle must be applied to your children. Do not tell what to do, help them make an informative choosing of a path.
    • Choice architecture is everywhere, on the websites when you fill forms, the way you deliver the lesson in the classroom, as MG is prone to point, students must become better after the lesson.
    • [[Nudging in teaching#^7259e3]]
    • It the classroom space, to encourage discussion, desks should face one another, thus creating a common ground for conversation.
      • [[Managing a classroom space]]
  • Good architecture not only pleasant to be in, but what is more important, it works!
    • To make such a place we must assume that there is no unimportant detail, everything matters.

Choice architecture

  • Social influences is the basis for the architecture.
    • People learn from each other.
      • We definitely learn from others, that the only course of evolution, but with knowledge and skills we also pick up biases and misconceptions.
      • Some things that seem to be practical, could turn out to be hugely wrong.
      • Exactly here, nudging can help in stirring people away from the wrong course.
    • The best way to nudge is via social interaction/influence.
      • Nudging can happen for good and bad, keep it in mind, and don’t let yourself be nudged at all.

Social influences

  • Come in two basic categories.
    • Information-based influence. If a certain number of people do something, their action conveys information what might be useful or beneficial to you in the future or if you act along.
    • Peer-pressure. Conformism. You act along to avoid wrath or curry favor of the crowd.
      • That’s one of the reasons why we can’t sometimes use the full potential, though there are a bunch of other reasons.
      • [[Books/Harry Potter and the methods of personality. Am I hero or a trembling creature?]]
  • That lead to one of the basic nudges principles.
    • Informational cascade. Suppose we are choosing between candidates, who applied for a certain position.
    • We have a group of eight people. And if the first choose one candidate, then chances that a second picker will choose the same person, not because he thinks so, but under the “pressure”, or the reason might be even more simple, he just trusts the first picker.
    • That is the source of resistance. To overcome the resistance, it is crucial to build a culture in which sharing personal opinion in the groundwork for any interaction.

Choice environment, problem space

  • When decision demands attention and certain things balance in favour or against on it, like voting during election. Every person counts.
    • System 2 usually sleeps, and we never urge it to take control because we just don’t know about its existence.
    • With voting, it’s easy: ask three follow-up questions.
      • What time do expect you’ll head to the polls?
      • Where will you be coming from?
      • What do you think you’ll be doing before heading out?
    • Can this be implemented in school? Or with our students in the courses.
  • What if similar questions could be asked in our course classes.
    • Just on the eve of the lesson day, send participants a questionnaire with nudging question.
    • The purpose of it must be something social experimenting or data collecting.
    • As to the questions:
      • What time do you expect you’ll be free?
      • Where from will you be joining the Zoom meeting?
      • What do you think you’ll be doing before connecting to the Zoom meeting?

Stimulus response compatibility

  • If we face a choice between pulling something or pushing, the form of the object has a defining role in our decision.
    • Like a vertical door handle. Big and beautiful.
    • [[massive door handle.png]]
  • What would you do with this kind of door, push or pull?
  • Signal the brain consistent with action stimulus.
    • What could be done to nudge students to participate in the classroom, or revise material at home. I need some stimulus, and the entry of a homework in the journal is not enough.
    • This kind of sign certainly would stall the crowd.
      • [[red octagonal go stop.png]]
  • Look for a Stroop test, when words flash in from of the eyes, and colour word are written in the wrong colour.
    • [[stroop test.png]]
  • We tend to name what our eye see, not the written word.
  • It exploits weakness of system 1, act without thinking.
  • So, it means that to nudge to work certain frames for decision-making must be designed, where S1 kicks in before S2 has a chance to slow things down and act rationally.
  • The mantra for nudging should be this: if you want something to happen, make the decision easy.
    • One of the law in [[Books/Atomic^078277]] is response. Make it easy.
    • This is the all prevailing mantra along the book, and on of the thickest and strongest pillars of change and nudge.
  • There is another point aside from easy. Less is much better.
    • In devising choice arcitechture structure, we have to keep in mind [[Books/Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of^8394f4]] mantra, that less is better.
    • Choice is better made with manageable sizes.
      • Where possible, simple yes-no, where not, defaults, with possibility of changing.
      • Process of curation is needed. Simple maximizing choices doesn’t work, it brings frustration and indecision.

What is Nudge?

  • I should start with not what it is, but what it isn’t.
    • It’s not restrictions. Restrictions do not work. Like limitation of phone time for children, or total ban of it at home or school.
    • This kind of attitude doesn’t create a favourable condition for improvement. It saws only resent and oppositions.
      • And constant cognitive distraction.
  • Nudging on the other hand is purposeful change of the environment or external conditions in such a way that people’s behaviour changes predictably.
    • It is accomplished without forbidding anything.
    • Or altering their economic incentives,
    • Nudge is an intervention that is easy and cheap to avoid.
  • Banning phones from kids’ rooms is not a nudge, leaving only one charger at home and keeping it on the kitchen’s stand is nudging.

Nudge is good for overcoming a status quo bias

  • Dettmer mentioned that the greatest constraint is people of organization.
    • Who are used to drudgery and don’t want any change whatsoever.
    • [[Changing the Status Quo]]
    • It happens due to the lack of attention to certain aspects of the system, that could be improved and benefits we can reap from the change.
    • In short, attention to certain things crucial for effective nudging policies.

Lack of self-control is what exploited by choice architects

  • The individual has two sets of personalities: one is of a doer, another one is a planner.
    • I have different analogy: digger and foreman.
    • [[Ideas/Separate planning and doing phases in your productivity^9888eb]]
  • Doer suffers from myopia, he can’t plan more than two steps ahead, typically, no more than one step.
    • [[perspective myopia]] is the most common disease among managers.
  • Nudges are calls to action in a sense, they are used when the decision on the action requires minimum attention, or difficult. A story with a donkey between two barrels (food and drink).
    • If a donkey experiences thirst and hunger and the same moment, and finds itself in a position of equal distance between two barrels, it will die of indecision. But if by some chance we tug the spur in one or another direction, it will know where to go.
  • Nudges are helpful when we don’t get feedback, and have difficulties translating some aspects of the situation into our coordinated system (understandable definition corpus).

Identity defines nudges

  • [[Books/Mindful Self-Discipline Living with Purpose and Achieving Your Goals in a World of^2fe0d3]]
  • [[Books/Atomic^c847ce]]
  • Above you can find some core sources for identity and its influence on everything we do. Below, some nice addition to the basic idea.
    • For the choice architect, it is better to work with people’s senses who they are and exploit it.
    • In some cases, nudge to change something is needed.
      • With one of my clients we were discussing, who she is and what she wants from her life.
      • During several lessons, she said that all she wants is to become a singer, she trains and has great vocal.
      • Then in one lesson, I’ve asked her about, what is the most important in her life, what she does and considers of utmost importance.
      • Her answers rotated around starting a family, action gravitated toward her man. Her behaviour hasn’t been consistent with her wishes.
      • That what identity is. That your actions could be easily connected with your wishes, after that, your dreams and aspirations come true.
    • Identity is a form of self-understanding. It is identity-based cognition.
      • Architects must work with the sense of belongingness.
        • To nationality.
        • To culture.
        • To region.
        • To ethnicity.
        • To religion.
        • To politics.
        • To favourite team.
        • To what else?

Plan B is what matters, nothing else

  • As we talked before, to make something happen, we have to make it easy [[Books/Nudge — Richard H Thaler Cass R response compatibility]], but what if it has already been set by someone else?
    • Like defaults. If no choice has been made, the system should strive for the most optimal resolution of conflict/situation.
    • But what is the most optimal and effective? It should be determined via simple questions.
    • Inaction mustn’t lead to indecision. Instead of inertia, action must take place. Safe and sound, and determined.
    • If by some miracle people understand their preferences, and forecast the consequences (especially bad), they can and probably will choose to change them.
      • [[German election ballot March of 1938.png]]
  • Defaults allow choice architect to understand people’s preferences without the need to guess.
    • For people, active choosing brings the advantages of doing and drawbacks, such as procrastination, inertia, and inattention.

The system architect should build must be forgiving. Mistakes must have small loss, and action substantial gain.

Active vs Passive choosing

  • Defaults, passive choice is good at avoiding stupid stumbles.
  • Choice, decision-making, is good at overcoming status quo bias.
    • [[Changing the Status Quo]]
    • Status quo is a fancy name for stagnation and current situation, inattention, and procrastination.
    • Choice architects have to use active choosing in situation where guesses don’t work, and when understanding of the real need of people is required. Blunders might lead to disasters.
      • Again back to school, how to implement? Multiple choice is not an option. It must be something simple, yes-no statements.
      • When choice requires long decision-making and complicated, better go with defaults. Mind this, that sensible defaults are hard to come by. It is a process of testing and elimination, checking and adaptation.
      • Though, even here we can nudge people to a specific choice. It’s as simple as giving what they usually want, but juxe the numbers a bit. [[Books/Nudge — Richard H Thaler Cass R to university]]

Applicants to university

  • We want to boost application enrollment to a specific university, or guide some application to a certain department.
    • It will be enough to publish a leaflet with major universities of the country.
    • But information in the leaflet arranged in a way that one university stands out significantly. Even among other universities, it attracts attentions.
    • The subtle question posed is this: do you want to be among alumni of this university or not?
    • This one of the elements of mapping, paving the way we want participants to tread.

Pave the path

  • Mapping is the essential skill in choice architecture.
  • If, let’s say by chance I need children in the classroom to come to a specific conclusion, I must plan ahead what I say and how information is presented.
    • Take for example, a not so simple question: what stands on your way to success?
    • This question causes only confusion and nothing else. No education comes out of it.
    • In order to serve educative purpose, I must frame it.
      • If you had to choose, what lack of what might seriously impede your success? Then I present them with options: gender, society, country, money, ages, race, health.
      • And ask them to pick. As you can guess, the obvious suspect is money, which is chosen by the majority of students.
      • We can also ask them to rate the list, and money again turns out on the top of the list. But it’s only a preliminary exercise, the real challenge comes next.
    • Why children choose money?
      • It’s all they know, a rare kid understands the power of other things, such as health, country, or times we live in.
      • All their lives they only saw how parents were slaving on the jobs. So, it must be money, no?
      • Not necessary.
      • I don’t vocally disagree with them because there is some truth in it, but not the whole.
      • So, instead I ask them to watch with me a short video
      • Watching usually followed by 5 minutes of quietness and some children go out to cry, but return in 10 min.
      • What happened during this short period? They have reevaluated attitude towards life and success specifically.
        • Now I ask them to re-rate or pick again. And oh wonder! Society and health comes first, money not even close.
        • This is what I call educative lesson.
    • Mapping is a process of education. Know one’s choice and pick the best.
    • A good system helps people improve the ability to map choices onto outcomes and select an option that will make them better off.
    • One way, are emotions, as it has been in the video.
    • Another is information representation in clear and comprehensible way. Number chunking, contextualizing.

Choice architect intervention decision-making

  • The more numerous and variative decision is, the more user simplifies it.
    • He tends to use rule of thumb or goes with habits.
    • Which is impossible in school, where we constantly nudge children to do something, say sitting classes.
    • So for them the heuristic is simple, for the majority at least: I oppose what I am forced to do.
    • This situation makes more work for a choice architect. The problem of which venues of life to pursue brings even bigger questions and frustration.
    • So, what is the solution? Foremost, there is no silver bullet to any of the questions.
      • The obvious way is to structure the decision-making process in such a manner that it leads to the best possible outcome. Like graduating from school or joining the university.
      • Choice must be broken to simple and edible pieces. Which are?
    • Structuring of choice means that people can learn today and decide tomorrow.

Align incentives

  • Peer pressure doesn’t get anywhere with age. If so, it only intensifies with age.
    • A wise architect uses group interests to nudge people in a certain direction, but to be effective, he has to answer four questions about choice architecture:
      • Who chooses?
      • Who uses?
      • Who pays?
      • Who profits?

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