Apr 13, 2008

Choice architecture

When creating incentives or educating does not work that much to change people's behaviour, there is another option: trick them.

This is what Nudge, a new book by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (both at the University of Chicago) explains. "There are many ways to trick people, but one of the easiest is simply by giving thought to the way choices are arrayed to them, or what they call choice architecture."

For example, let’s say you want men to stop accidentally peeing on the floor instead of in urinals in an airport bathroom. Maybe you could make them pay a fine for missing target or maybe someone could teach them on the diseases it can create. The choice architects have an easier solution: paint a fly in the urinal. It turns out with something to aim at, “spillage” is reduced 80 percent.

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