Notes & thoughts from reading Nudge:


These are decisions based on what already know and where we are now. The principle implies that our decisions are always based on where we are, who we’re with, and ‘when’ we are now.

Question: How might the decisions you see being made around you be affecting by people’s context in that moment?


The best way of describing this is by asking the question: what kills more people each year: things that fall from aeroplanes flying in the sky overhead or sharks? You’re bound to say sharks, because we don’t see the former splashed over the cover of Time magazine or forming the basis for multi-million pound films. Because of the predominance of sharks in the media, we are able to make available the image of sharks in our mind more readily, and thus the bias.

Question: what biases do you have and why? How might your daily stimulii be affecting your decisions?


This is all about stereotypes. People have thought for years that the Germans in the second world war were bombing the river and the docks, based on looking at maps of the city. However, it turns out that if you turn the map 90 degrees and perform the same distribution analysis, it’s random. But because we see the pattern of the river, we automatically create a mapping that we think must be there.

Question: what lens are you using?

Overconfidence & Optimism

Turns out that if you ask drivers of cars what percentile they think they are in, they’ll say on average that it’s above average.

Gains & Losses

Loss aversion. A loss = 2x worse than the same gain.

Status Quo Bias

e.g. Most people don’t understand their Pension and don’t do anything about them even if they know they are wasting them money. Why? because you can’t pay attention to everything.


This is seen in statistics, you can make anything sound good or bad just by how you frame or structure the delivery.

Temptation and self control

We underestimate the affect of arousal.

Mindless choosing

Automatic pilot habits Large plates mean more eating

Self control strategies

People are partly aware of their weaknesses and take steps to engage outside help. You can think of yourself having a planner and a doer brain. Your planner brain sets the alarm, your doer brain turns if off and goes back to sleep. Self-control strategies can be designed, such as placing the alarm clock further away from the bed. External self-control strategies can be designed, take the example of Christmas Clubs.

Mental accounting

Internal self-control. Money is fungible (doesn’t have labels), and we bucket to budget.

Doing what others do

/Following the herd. Turns out obesity is ‘catchable’. Fat people congregate.