The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters
A leader in decision-making research reveals how choices are designed—and why it’s so important to understand their inner workings
Every time we make a choice, our minds go through an elaborate process most of us never even notice. We’re influenced by subtle aspects of the way the choice is presented that often make the difference between a good decision and a bad one. How do we overcome the common faults in our decision-making and enable better choices in any situation? The answer lies in more conscious and intentional decision design.
Going well beyond the familiar concepts of nudges and defaults, The Elements of Choice offers a comprehensive, systematic guide to creating effective choice architectures, the environments in which we make decisions. The designers of decisions need to consider all the elements involved in presenting a choice: how many options to offer, how to present those options, how to account for our natural cognitive shortcuts, and much more. These levers are unappreciated and we’re often unaware of just how much they influence our reasoning every day.
Eric J. Johnson is the lead researcher behind some of the most well-known and cited research on decision-making. He draws on his original studies and extensive work in business and public policy and synthesizes the latest research in the field to reveal how the structure of choices affects outcomes.
We are all choice architects, for ourselves and for others. Whether you’re helping students choose the right school, helping patients pick the best health insurance plan, or deciding how to invest for your own retirement, this book provides the tools you need to guide anyone to the decision that’s right for them.
Praise for The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters
Praise for The Elements of Choice:
“Indispensable. This book provides an essential guide to the construction of better choices—for yourself, for other individuals and for society.” —Daniel Kahneman, author of Noise and Thinking, Fast and Slow
“Readers will be fascinated by this persuasive exploration.” —Publishers Weekly
“Illuminating…A strong argument for more thoughtfully presenting options to yield better choices.” —Kirkus
“Eric Johnson is the world’s leading expert on choice architecture. No one is better qualified to map the invisible webs of influence that constrain all we do.” —Philip E. Tetlock, author of Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
“The Elements of Choice is a must-read for anyone interested in the hidden forces that shape our daily decisions. And as one of the foremost scholars of judgment and decision making, Eric Johnson is the perfect person to write this important and engaging book.” —Katy Milkman, author of How to Change
“Eric Johnson offers a powerful tool kit for designing better end-to-end decision-making processes. His deep insight and expertise shine through on every page.” —Jonah Berger, author of The Catalyst and Contagious
“Eric Johnson distills the modern science of decision-making with incomparable clarity and the most captivating stories. His book is a must read for anyone who wants to know how we can help one another make wiser choices.” —Angela Duckworth, author of Grit
“Anyone serious about knowing how best to structure the features of an offered choice or how best to respond to the presence of those features needs to read this book.” —Robert Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion"
“Every choice you make—from the health plan you select to the sandwich you order for lunch—was designed by someone. The Elements of Choice brilliantly reveals the subtle yet powerful levers that influence your decisions.” —Carol Dweck, author of Mindset
“This book explains human decision-making with the rare clarity and insight that only comes from a researcher at the top of their field. An essential read for anyone who wants to make better choices." —Nir Eyal, author of Hooked and Indistractable
“I love this book. It shows how you can be influenced, when making decisions, by the way the choices are presented to you. Do you think you made up your own mind about saving, spending or investing? Maybe you were subtly guided toward choices best for the financial institution, not for you. Elements of Choice will open your eyes.” —Jane Bryant Quinn, author of How to Make Your Money Last
“The Elements of Choice is a manual for designers, policy-makers, and founders to understand how consumers choose. I hope it'll be used to design smarter apps, menus, and policies that help us all choose better.” —Jon Stein, founder and chairman of Betterment
“An engaging and useful guide to the seemingly inconsequential factors that influence our choices. If you want to make better choices, this book is your chance to learn from a master choice architect.” —Barbara Mellers, George I. Heyman University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania