Friday, November 21, 2008

Libertarian Paternalism and Choice Architecture

The Atlantic (Monthly). Although it has been around for over 150 years, I'm fairly certain it is my new favourite magazine. The article on The Neuroscience of Identity was particularly fetching and touched briefly on Thaler and Sunstein's concept of "libertarian paternalism". They have co-written a book called Nudge that centers on this kind of thinking, which essentially asserts that based on the design of a decision (choice architecture), we can be "nudged" towards making better choices for ourselves with the unobtrusive help and guidance of a positive default decision or context. This principle may just seem like a synonym for common sense, but let's face it, not all of us are privy to common sense these days, and a "nudge" sure might help. Not only can libertarian paternalism be used in our daily personal lives, but also in government policy making, work environments, administration, and just about any situation that involves choice. Read more here.

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