In the News

Nudges in the Bar - Choice Architecture and Drinking Less

Geoff Riley

31st December 2016

Here is an interesting article on social norms in the pub contrasted to restaurants.

Norms of reciprocity such as buying a round are powerful forces when lining up at the bar, not so when seated at the dinner or lunch table. The article argues for serving higher-strength beers in smaller glasses to change the choice architecture - although holding a half glass still invites ridicule!

Choice architecture

This refers to a scenario in which the environment in which someone must make a decision has been carefully designed to try and influence that decision. There is a variety of ways in which the “environment” can be designed. For example:

  • Altering the “default” option – most consumers stick with a “default” option, so producers should think about which option they would most like consumers to use
  • Providing “immediate feedback” on choices that are made in order to make consumers reconsider their decision
  • Altering the number of options available or changing the wording in order to subconsciously manipulate our decisions

This term was developed by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in 2008 in their book ‘Nudge’. In short, choice architecture is the framing of a choice in order to manipulate the outcome of someone’s decision.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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