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Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

There are no entirely free choices: Someone or something is somehow nudging you into the decisions you make.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


In this lovely, useful book, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein examine choices, biases and the limits of human reasoning from a variety of perspectives. They often amuse by disclosing how they have fallen victim to the limitations of thought that they are describing. The fact that these educated, articulate professionals can fool themselves so often demonstrates how tough it is to think clearly, a point the authors emphasize and even repeat. Humans fall prey to systematic errors of judgment, but you can harness this problematic tendency productively several ways, including helping others make better decisions. Some of the authors’ suggestions may not be practical, but many are – and all are interesting. getAbstract recommends this book to anyone who wants to know how to shape responsible decisions.


People and Choices

People make choices all the time. They choose what to wear, what to eat, how to invest their money and what candidates to support. However, while they often choose without coercion, they do not choose without influence. The context in which people make decisions influences them noticeably, and often deliberately.

Those who organize choices and present them are “choice architects,” and their choice architecture can affect public and private decisions so markedly that they deserve heightened attention.

The things that influence people are not always rational, and people are not always aware of what is influencing them. Consider the black flies painted in the urinals in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Men using urinals often don’t aim well and make a mess. However, if you give them a target, even a painted fly, spillage plummets (in this case, by 80%).

Every choice presentation is weighted, because the way you offer a choice shapes it. This means that your choice is not between framing choices or not framing them, but between framing them consciously and ethically, or framing them.

To get people to act better, you can make a law and ...

About the Authors

Richard H. Thaler teaches at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and is author of Quasi Rational Economics. Cass R. Sunstein teaches at the University of Chicago Law School and is the author of Infotopia.

Comment on this summary

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    J. M. 6 months ago
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    I. S. getAbstract 4 years ago
    me encanta este asbstract!
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    F. .. 6 years ago
    Recomendations regarding saving choices are simmilar than those presented by Dan Ariely. Worth reading.