Each day we face countless decisions that test our self-control : order greasy pizza or a healthy salad for lunch? Buy a new pair of shoes or put that money in the bank? Surf the Internet or buckle down and finish the project? We don?t always make the "best" choices for ourselves, and we often realize that we should find a way to reduce temptation. Yet we?re reluctant to voluntarily give up choices or to have them taken away — indeed, we often want something even more once it?s expressly forbidden, a phenomenon known as "reactance." So if you want to steer yourself or others toward making the most beneficial choice, how you present the options matters, and imposing restrictions that don?t feel like restrictions, can go a long way.
In Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein build on these insights, offering a solution to the dilemma of self-control, as well as the problems caused by its close relatives, decision-making biases and social influence. They argue that we can actually use these potential pitfalls to our advantage in presenting choices, thereby encouraging better individual decisions and improving the welfare of society as a whole. Nudge is an engaging and important book that attempts to tackle the major problems of the 21st century — not just in our own country, but on a global scale — and the authors are to be commended for generating proposals that are certain to stir discussion on a variety of timely issues.