Review of Nudge: The Final Edition by Thaler & Sunstein

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have written what they claim will be the final edition of Nudge. The book is extensively updated with more case studies and examples and expanded discussion of many of the issues covered in the original book.

The authors argue that everyone is a ‘choice architect’ and there is no such thing as neutral design. They cite many examples where relatively simple nudges outperform more extensive (and expensive) solutions based on regulations or incentive structures. This is a key argument for thinking about the psychology of a situation and behaviour before moving to money and the law.

They address the problem of ‘sludge’ (the topic of another recent book by Cass Sunstein), discuss the challenge of organ donation, making it clear that they are not just advocates of opt-in defaults, and discuss issues of sustainability in some detail.

Even if you read the original of Nudge, there is much to learn from this updated version. If you haven’t yet read Nudge, then I recommend it if you are at all interested in issues of behaivour change and many of the personal and societal challenges discussed in the book. Despite the ‘paternalistic’ tone of voice, Nudge will make you see the world differently.


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