August 27: Making Choices

On August 27, 2019, we took on Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Here are the show notes:

Theme for day:

Being a Choice Architect

Agenda review:

  • Nudge — Week 1 introduction, etc.
  • Choice Architecture
  • What being a Choice Architect does for you and your business
food healthy people woman
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on

Segment 1:

So last week we agreed to read Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. But like all nonfiction books, it’s a slow read.

Today we’ll talk about the concepts of it and next week we’ll wrap up the specifics. Both weeks we’ll try to make it applicable to your business.

Let’s start with who wrote this book. So Richard Thaler is an economist. He wrote “Misbehaving” about Behavioral Economics. He has this great idea that the perfectly logical way to act is what he calls homo economicus or sensible, reason-driven human beings. But admits that we’re primarily homo sapiens, or human beings who are irrational. He thinks we want to commit to the idea of being econs — we pretend we make sensible choices — but the data just doesn’t support the fantasy.

For example, the availability of healthy food (bananas and apples) does not influence our choice to eat the muffins instead.

This seems to pair with last week’s discussion about procrastination. Which, by the way, reared its ugly head again this week as I finished the show notes at 6 a.m. today.

When given the choice between what we know is right and sensible and what feels good, humans are more likely to pursue the latter.

Let’s come up with some examples of when, in our business, we’ve been presented with the sensible choice and made the opposite choice for whatever reason.

Segment 2

Choice architecture, according to Thaler, is the intentional manipulation of choice circumstances to create a desired outcome.

For example, how grocery stores organize the food on the shelves and in the aisles — high-priced wine on the top shelf at eye-level, lower priced wine near the floor; the default setting on your phone and other software devices; benefits enrollment that remains the same if you don’t make a change.

Where in our businesses are we in default mode?

Why do we accept the default without modification?

When I googled “default mode psychology” I found the Default Mode Network concept of brain maturation suggesting when at rest, connected areas of the brain get active. These areas include emotional response impulses. So when we actively rest ourselves, we are more capable of processing emotion.

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