Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Report no.1: ISSP Public Lecture w. Richard Thaler

By Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Andreas Maaløe Jespersen & Katrine Lund Skov

On October 21 the long anticipated ISSP Public Lecture 2011 was given by Richard Thaler at the Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen. 

More than 200 citizens, business representatives, academics, and policy makers had decided to use the Friday of the Danish one week "potato-holiday" to attend Prof. Thaler's lecture on Nudging.

The lecture
The lecture was arranged through the Danish Nudging Network in collaboration between ISSP, the Metropolitan University College, University of Southern Denmark, Trygfonden, the Danish Cancer Society, MindLab, DEA, and Aalborg University with the aim of giving anyone with an interest in our general 'health, wealth and happiness' a first hand encounter with the nudge-doctrine and one of its 'founding fathers'. The encounter became both intimate, deliberative and entertaining.

Throughout the lecture Prof. Thaler stayed close to the main tenets of the underlying book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008) thereby truly respecting the fact that the idea of nudging is new to most people in Denmark. As a result the audience got an impression of the original motives underlying the writing of the book as well as its core ideas.

The lecture covered several 'high-impact' examples of nudging such as schemes for private pension systems and sign up procedures for organ donation. But it also presented some concrete examples from the world of design, architecture, and law, such as badly designed stoves, school lunch rooms, and mobile calling plans.

Common to all of the various examples Prof. Thaler presented was that they each showed in one way or another, how accepting and respecting the psychology of human decision making in the way we arrange the details of the physical, social, and juridical structures that underpin our decisions and behavior may make a significant difference on society and our individual well-being.

Questions and answers
After 1½ hour the ISSP Lecture concluded with a relaxed Q&A. The questions reflected the broad variety of interest represented in the audience. "Will nudging make us less capable of handling choices in the future?"  and "What separates nudging from manipulation?" were some of the questions asked thereby showing that the ISSP Lecture served its purpose of allowing people first-hand interaction and engagement with Nudging and one of its founding fathers.

In the picture you can see Prof. Richard Thaler (sitting), Co-Director of ISSP Pelle Guldborg Hansen (standing), Anders Hede (Trygfonden, back to camera), Science Journalist Peter Hesseldahl (background to the right) Credit: Tobias Egmose

However, to find out what Prof. Thaler answered to these question you have wait a little while...

While waiting you might want to read about the perfect way to nudge yourself to freedom.

1 comment:

  1. I was very interesting to see the man in action! I'm so glad I attended -- thanks to the organizers for setting this thing up!