Choice Architecture

On October 15, 2013
choiceChoice architecture describes the way in which decisions may and can be influenced by how the choices are presented (in order to influence the outcome), and is a term used by Cass Sunstein and economist Richard Thaler in the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. As the author Richard Thaler states, Google is developing choice architecture to remind Gmail users when they forget an attachment or may be about to send a rude email. “If you mention the word attachment in the text of your email and you don’t include an attachment, it would prompt you,” he said. “Even better would be an emotion detection system that will send you a warning if you are about to send an angry email.” This concept is very important in neuromarketing and in how researchers choose to display stimuli to experiment participants.
Choice architecture seeks to affect outcomes through the manner in which the person or organization presents the choice to the decision-maker. For example, a study (Johnson E J, Goldstein D G. 2003. Do defaults save lives? Science 302: 1338-1339) states that nations that require citizens to opt-out of organ transplant donation have a significantly higher organ-donor rate than nations where the citizens must affirmatively choose to take part (opt-in).Another technique suggested is laying out various outcomes of a decision in a way that is easy for the choice-maker to understand. The literature on choice architecture builds a framework to distinguish between two types of tools that choice architects can use: those that structure a choice in a certain way, and tools that make use of how options are presented to decision-makers (Johnson E J, Shu S B, Dellaert B G C, Fox C, Goldstein D G, Haeubl G, Larrick R P, Payne J W, Schkade D, Wansink B, Weber E U. 2012. Beyond nudges: Tools of a choice architecture. Marketing Letters 23: 487-504). To illustrate, the use of a default, where the default option will lead to a more socially desirable outcome, is an example of structuring choices. The way in which options are categorized and then presented to a decision-maker is an example of presenting options in a way that influences choice. The concept of choice architecture included permission marketing as described by Seth Godin.

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