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Study notes

Choice Architecture (Behavioural Economics)

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

What is choice architecture?

Choice architecture describes how the decisions we make are affected by the layout / sequencing / and range of choices that are available. According to Behavioural economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, policy makers can help by paying close attention to such factors as the framing of choices and the default options—this is the idea known as choice architecture.

Behavioural Economics Choice Architecture - revision video

For example getting students to eat more helpfully might involve altering the design of the school or college restaurant

Smart building designs might make it more attractive / easier to take the stairs rather than use a lift!

A choice architect is someone who organizes the context in which people make decisions. Indeed many people are choice architects, most without realizing it!

The design of menus in restaurants, the range of services offered by a local surgery and the choices offered to people by sellers of financial services are all examples of choice architecture at work.

At a political level, the wording and design of a voting / ballot form can also affect our decisions.

Choice architecture is often more effective when it encourages simplicity in the decisions that people have to make and in which the benefits and costs are made clear.

Choice architecture influences decision making by simplifying the presentation of options, by automatically evoking particular associations, or by making one option more salient or easier to choose than the alternatives.

(Thaler and Sunstein 2008).​

View our full revision video playlist on Behavioural Economics:

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