How do you make choices?

I've just finished reading an interesting book called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. One of the key concepts in the book was the idea of 'Choice Architecture'. Thaler and Sunstein's theory is that  a lot of the choices we make in our lives can be hugely influenced by the way a person or organisation presents the choice to us. The book states that Choice Architects have a huge influence on our Health, Wealth and Happiness.  

When you think about this, it is clear that this influence affects all of us in all aspects of our lives. Research has shown that items in retail stores that are displayed at eye level are the ones that get chosen more often. At the high end of consumer research, retailers know which way people will turn when they first walk into a store so they set their stores up to capitalise on this. 

I think we are all aware of instances of choice architecture at some level of our lives. But after reading this book I wondered what changes a Choice Architect would create in peoples’ lives if their job was to create an environment that enhanced the chances of us making healthy choices. The focus in the book was more on how Choice Architects affect us on the subconscious choice level but what if they were to help us on the conscious level?.  

Think about your life and all the times you have to make decisions about your health and fitness. If you had to employ yourself as your own Choice Architect to help you improve your decision making process around what would you change? Maybe you would make sure you always have a healthy snack before you do your shopping so you avoid buying bad foods you are tempted to choose when you are hungry. You might decide that you’ll get up ten minutes earlier in the morning to make your lunch which stops you from buying takeaway food at work. Instead of having chocolate biscuits at eye level in the pantry you have a bowl of fruit.  

Over the next week pretend that you have a Choice Architect with you all the time. Recognise the daily choices you make and think about how you can present the healthier choice in a way that is easy to choose, and after a while it will become a habit.

Bevan Eyles