The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters

Eric J. Johnson. Riverhead, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-08443-4
People’s choices are not entirely their own making advises Johnson (Decision Research), the director of Columbia Business School’s Center for Decision Sciences, in this energetic survey. Dissatisfied with how decision research and behavioral economics usually focus on showing people as bad decision-makers, he takes aim instead at those who influence decisions in order to better guide consumers towards more informed choices. People will usually choose the “plausible path” that contains the most accessible credible information, Johnson writes, and presents a slew of stories about how these plausible paths are made. For example: before a computer program made it easier, doctors more often prescribed generic drugs because their names came to memory quicker; higher tip suggestions in cabs work; and a high number of people in America aren’t organ donors simply because it’s the default option on forms (and becoming a donor would require them to check a box). Ultimately, Johnson writes, choosers are often unaware of the systems that impact their decision-making, and the onus is on designers, engineers, and advertisers to take the high road and “design for others as you would like them to design for you.” Readers will be fascinated—and crestfallen—by this persuasive exploration. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/09/2021
Release date: 10/05/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-08445-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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