Choice architecture• “A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions.” 1. “If you are a doctor and must describe the alternative treatments available to a patient, you are a choice architect. “ 2. “If you design the form new employees fill out to enroll in the company health care plan, you are a choice architect.”• “ … seeming small features of social situations can have massive effects on people’s behavior…”• “It is legitimate for choice architects to try to influence people’s behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier and better.”• “There is no such thing as neutral design.” Source: Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge 11/1/2011 (updated paperback edition, 2009) at 3 and 5. 11
Nudges in the break room• Experiment: In the break room at Manhattan Mortgage Company, Good Morning America elevates the fruit plate closer to eye level• Result: Fruit gets eaten in less than a third of the time it normally takes.• Experiment: GMA moves donuts away from the center, off to the side.• Result: Donut consumption drops by 10%. Source: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=7127723&page=111/1/2011 14
… and master the tipping pointsNew research:• Initiation: At the onset of a new interest or “market,” researchers find that variety-seeking prevails• Contagion: When a specific approach draws the support of 30% of the group, adoption takes off• Saturation: But when group adoption hits 80%-90%, individualism re-surfaces; the adoption curve flattens out• Takeaway: When something new gathers steam, people join in (at least until the new practice builds to stifling conformity) Source: Pascale Quester and Alexandre Steyer, “Revisiting Individual Choices in Group Settings: The Long and Winding (Less Traveled) Road?” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, No. 6 (April 2010)11/1/2011 29
Mechanisms of transmission• When peer pressure operates, people externalize others’ behavior …• But when norms take hold, people internalize others’ values and beliefs.Behavioral economists performed the experiments: 1. Priming: Exposing people to small but well-timed cues can change behavior 2. Conformity effects: People look to others for such cues 3. Anchoring and adjustment (inertia): Once people have a point of reference, they don’t depart from it very muchNeuroscientists find preliminary indications of “hard wiring” for norms 1. Mirror neuron system: Watching lights up the same part of the brain as doing 2. Agreement alone lights up the ventral striatum, strongly associated with emotional and motivational aspects of behavior. Source: See, e.g., Campbell-Meiklejohn et al, “How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects,” Current Biology 20, 1-6, July 13, 2010.