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Publisher's Summary

Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain, is that, being human, we are all susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder.

Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself.

Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society.

Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful "choice architecture" can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Nudge offers a unique new take - from neither the left nor the right - on many hot-button issues, for individuals and governments alike. This is one of the most engaging and provocative audiobooks to come along in many years.

Included in this recording are a bonus chapter and a Postscript that was added in the paperback edition.

©2009 Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein; (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp

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  • Jay
  • Tennessee Colony, TX, United States
  • 06-08-13

An overly long Nudge in the right direction

Any additional comments?

I accidentally stumbled upon a group of books that support a theory I call "our little fake worldviews." My theory is, basically, that large amounts of things we believe -- and do so very firmly in some instances -- aren't even true.

The first in the series I found was "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. This book was followed by, The Self Illusion: Why There Is No "You" Inside Your Head, by Bruce Hood. Both of these books are highly recommended. Later, I found "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman, which I'm reading now.

The basis of the books are that people are terribly easy to manipulate. For example, if you can prime someone by asking the question in a certain way, you can skew the answers given to the question. For example, if you ask the question, "Did Gandhi live to be 144 years old?" You can make people give a much higher age of death for Gandhi than his actual age when he died. Why? Because by inserting "144 years old" into the question, the majority of people start at 144 years old and go down, having a mental image of a very old man in the process (This example was actually from "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman).

The first section of Nudge is very similar to the above books, being filled with interesting studies that show how little there actually is to "us." While very good, unfortunately, some of the studies had actually been covered in the above books somewhere. At some points, it seemed that entire paragraphs were interchangeable between books, as there were sections that I remember almost word for word from other books. I'm not sure who quoted, who, though, or which books even.

The second section of the book is about retirement plans, investing, insurance, etc. The connection to the first section is that, if people are "nudged" in the right direction (by subtle manipulation), the public at large can be pushed in a direction that benefits both the individual and society as a whole. The authors seem to think they are taking a libertarian position while doing their nudging, but as someone who has studied a lot of libertarians philosophy, nothing really jumped out at me as being overtly libertarian in origin.

Unfortunately, the authors are very long winded. The first section of the book is admittedly really interesting. However, if you don't actually have investments, stock, or retirement plans at work, you can just skip the second half of the book. It is tedious and boring.

While I'm sure the book may be of some help to people who actually have investments, stock, retirement plans, etc., this book could be skipped in favor of the similar but better books mentioned above. If you are interested in this book because of its purported libertarian leanings, I would suggest something from Ron Paul instead.

All in all, I am not disappointed for buying the book, but I sure wouldn't put this at the top of my list for must reads.

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Initial point is interesting but way too long

The takeaway that I got from this book is that the way questions are expressed or items are presented will influence (nudge) our decisions. Its an interesting point and was supported by a few good initial examples (I like the term "Choice Architect" that they coined). After that, the point was reinforced with many, many (too many) examples. Most (if not all) were to support their political agenda. 'We feel this agenda is right so we should nudge the public to decide the way they should using these tactics...' Over and over and over for 12 hours... Stop listening after the 1st hour and you'll get enough.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Awfully awfully long

I actually agree generally with the positions the authors advocate; but the book is way too long, making it very difficult to sit through in the audiobook format. If you're interested in this topic, I'd suggest the print format so you can skip ahead if you already have read anything about behavioral economics (several chapters repeat basic stuff from the field) or if you can "get it" after one or two examples and don't particularly need to hear the third, and fourth, and fifth.

Personally I also find the narration monotonous... though it is a dry topic so can't necessarily fault the reader :).

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Doug
  • Austin, TX
  • 10-30-17

Libertarian Socialism

The author, Dr. Richard Thaler, won a Nobel Prize recently for his work, which is outlined in this book. He labeled his School of Thought as ‘Libertarian Paternalism’ in that his models for economic behavior protect choice, hence ‘libertarian,’ and that there’s a ‘father-knows-best’ attitude in protecting people from their own irrational selves, hence ‘paternalism.’ The big new idea here is that markets are irrational. Throughout most of the 20th Century, economists marveled at the successes of the free market and assigned these successes to individuals making rational choices in the marketplace, or ‘acting in their own best interest.’ This ‘self-interest’ was a loathed, but rational mechanism that, when spread over millions of private decisions, by millions of people, each acting prudently, an invisible hand crystallized to steer society in the best direction. Oddly, Dr. Thaler doesn’t dispute the superior overall results of a free market system, but he attempts to discredit it nonetheless.

I believe Dr. Thaler discovered what we already know: human beings make poor long-term decisions in favor of instant gratification. In nearly all the book’s examples, human choices appeared flawed when the consequences of those choices were delayed in the future. The time component confused our decision-making. If a child chooses cake over an avocado & turkey sandwich, that decision is deemed ‘irrational.’ When faced with labyrinthine health care plans, where the services, quality and actual medical costs all occur in the future, people seemed to make ‘irrational’ choices. The overarching principle for ‘Nudge Theory’ is that if academics design better menus, then people can make better choices for long-term decisions.

But I must say, Dr. Thaler hasn’t debunked the basic rationality of the free market. To this day, regular people make highly rational decisions in the marketplace when long term effects aren’t the only concern. If I want to buy a house, and there are two competing homes, one costs $200,000 and the other costs $220,000. If there is nothing to justify the extra $20,000 in the second home, then I’ll buy the first home. This Principle of Substitution lets me compare options and prices and allows me to act prudently and in my best interest. These basic value decisions occur constantly and drive the market. Whether I can afford the house or whether I bought it right before the housing market collapsed is where you’ll find Dr. Thaler shaking his head in academic frustration.

One thing about Dr. Thaler that must be commended at all costs, is that he is a problem solver. Many books exalt themselves in their criticism of the world as it is, but here, the esteemed economist focuses his time and energy in providing measurable solutions. When I read, I want to hear solutions. Tell me how to make the world better. Whether or not Dr. Thaler is on the right track can and should be debated. But the fact that he’s out there, boldly presenting his ideas to the world is what counts. I like the idea of nudging for some investment security and I like the idea of nudging where safety is concerned. Beyond that, nudging serves the nudgee’s preconceived notions of ‘the good’ for the individual and for society.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I cannot recommend this book

What did you like best about Nudge? What did you like least?

I really have a difficult time saying what I liked about this book. I didn't hate it, but like other reviewers, found it lacked focus and was repetitive. I stuggled to get through it and in the end gave up, which is unusual for me. I enjoyed "Influence, The Power to Change Anything" by Kerry Patterson (and others) much more.

What was most disappointing about Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein???s story?

The story could have been more concise. The points made are simple enough but get lost in the detailed examples, which are often a re-hash of material from the work of others

What three words best describe Sean Pratt???s voice?

It is fine, but the book was not, so its hard to be enthusiastic about his performance.

Was Nudge worth the listening time?


9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Libertarianism - interesting!

An interesting read/listen. Listeners should be aware that this is essentially a political manifesto, laying out the philosophy of libertarianism along with many real examples of the application of this way of thinking. This book is not so much about how an individual can make better decisions but how a government (or a marketer) can "architect" or present the choices so as to influence the "best" choice. The "best" choice could be with respect to the individual, to society as a whole or who ever is trying to sell you something. This book is eye-opening as a warning against sales tactics that might be employed upon you and also a refreshing alternative to traditional politics.

35 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

extremely boring

I feel like I wasted a credit and precious hours of my time listening to this book. I kept telling myself to give it a chance and it might just get better...but it didn't, it's boring all along

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • SvP
  • U.S.
  • 04-03-17


Where does Nudge rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I found the book hard to get through, the examples are long and (imho) not very entertaining. It made me lose track of the conclusions.

What didn’t you like about Sean Pratt’s performance?

It's well narrated, but slow. Some people may very well thinks that's a plus though.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from Nudge?

Nudge's message is about marketing and self-improvement alike, and anyone who thinks they take conscious and deliberate actions every day may be shocked by the truth ;-)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • EMIR
  • BRIDGEPORT, CT, United States
  • 02-03-12

Best book of my Audible library so far...

I've been interested in the behavioral economics subject, but this book is the reference for the topic, beware it might change many things you thought you had a very strong view so far!


2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • SS
  • 01-19-18

I couldn’t finish it

I am not going to get into any details since I wasn’t able to make my way to the end. I tried the first few hours and even tried skipping ahead but nothing in it really grabbed my attention. Seemed slow and not really very insightful to me

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  • Andy
  • 09-17-09

A hot title for libertarians who want to do good

How many economists can you invite to a dinner party without spoiling it for everyone else? Why do I pull on doors that say push? Why is their no logic to my saving and borrowing? Why do I put up with default settings on my computer that annoy me?

All of these question and many more have been answered by this book along with why government campaigns on obesity are making matters worse. How to solve the pension crisis and how to get people to drink less without turning into a fascist.

"Libertarian paternalism" they call it or how to design and frame choices so that they have positive outcomes that individuals and society would want when they are thinking logically.

It?s a very important book and highly influential on some decision makers in the UK and the States, I knew that when I bought it; what I didn?t expect was that it would be so funny. I have laughed out loud half a dozen times and not just at the rich vein of references to Homer Simpson who is repeatedly referenced.

I did nod off during the long chapter on the American pension system though there are useful parallels but generally it is highly entertaining and very thought provoking.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Boyle
  • 04-20-11


Not my favourite book, in fact It has been a while since I have struggled to read an audible book like this one. Behavioural economics books are generally fascinating, but this one applies very few principles to endless obvious examples; the cover is the high point. Read Dan Ariely instead.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. R. H. Barnes
  • 08-03-15

Some interesting points but far too much duplication

Quite a good read but is far longer than needs to be as repeats / reiterates the same points over rather than further exploring and developing the ideas. By the time it got to the section of US medical records I had started to lose the will to live and nearly gave up !

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • R
  • 12-24-12

Choice architecture

This is the "applications" book that (for me) follows on from the theory presented in nobel prize winner Daniel Kahnemann's "Thinking, fast and slow" - so if you haven't read that, my hunch is that you won't get this - it may seem too superficial, even though each topic is taken in some detail. I think it is excellent and gives good advice for anyone who is a "choice architect" - including governments - on how to help people make better choices. Along the way the authors also give some financial planning advice!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. D. Hignett
  • 08-16-17

Some good points, but overall truly awful

I tried and tried to listen to all of this but had to give up just over half way through. It has some good points but overall it's awful to listen to and badly structured.

Here what I didn't like:

- It talks a lot about out of date stuff like 'how to handle the subprime crisis' that happened 10 years ago
- Early chapters refer to tables or images that you can't see. There is a PDF to download but I don't intend to refer to that when I'm out walking or in the car
- half way through a chapter it would audibly tell you it's the next chapter - no effort to align the audible recording with the chapters
- From a UK perspective, there is too much talk about US politics and policy that didn't add value for me personally
- The overall context (possibly a mix of the tone of voice and language used) was too much to listen to. I have read and listened to a lot of business and non-fiction books so am used to technical jargon but this audible was too much.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • C
  • 07-02-16

didn't make it to chapter 3

basic information presented in a convoluted fashion. there may be insightful answers to the myriad of examples later on in the book. I never made it that far to find out.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • D McDowell
  • 12-14-14

A focus on government policies

What did you like most about Nudge?

Some interesting points are made about how we are influenced in the decision making process. These points are often backed up by reference to research papers. The focus the authors make on the practical application of these points is in the context of government policies. This is not an area I'm particularly interested in and I dare say those in elected government don't pay much attention to choice architecture, instead placing priority over actions that enhance short term votes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 05-23-11

You have to be quite interested in US pension rule

I felt I had heard most of the key ideas by reading a selection of reviews. How most people are 'humans' who have trouble disciplining themselves to save (for pensions etc) and are unrealistic in their assessments e.g. not believing on their wedding days that they risk divorce, and generally let their lives be run by inertia and taking the easiest path. The opposites are 'econs', who behave rationally all the time. A lot of all this is jolly amusing, but beyond these key ideas Thaler and Sunstein plough through enormous detail on pensions and (US) healthcare plans which is probably just what turns the typical human off.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara
  • 02-07-10


I was really looking forward to this audiobook and it started off being quite promising. I liked the idea that behaviour can be changed by simple nudges and it was this that appealed to me. However as a UK listener the emphasis on American society lost me at several points, particularly the chapter on pensions and medicaid. I suppose this is so different from our NHS system that I found it hard to relate to. Eventually I abandoned it. There were some interesting points, but overall not one of my favourites.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alban
  • 12-01-17

Too academic for the general public

I read this book with great interest. I found it interesting informative and very well worth the while reading though I would say that most people would find it to acadamic. The nudges are extremely useful for the everyday of most readers. On that basis alone I would highly recommend you listen to The Book.

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  • Jared
  • 12-08-17

essential listening

essential listening for everyone who makes decisions and especially for those who create choices for others.

  • Overall
  • Kussi
  • 04-26-17

fantastic and informative!

very useful to understand how I am nudged and how to effectively nice myself! Love it!

2 of 4 people found this review helpful