When you walk into the grocery store, everything seems to have a place. Think about the shelves or bins where you grab your groceries from? What do they look like? Where are they placed? Do you notice the colours of the labels and packaging?
If you think about it end caps usually have special items, often at a discounted price. New products always seem to be at eye level in order to grab our attention. And of course, candy always seems to be on the lower shelves for the little ones.
This isn’t by accident.
How items are presented in stores is just one example of what Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein call ‘choice architect’ in their book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health,Wealth, and Happiness. This theory plays on ‘automatic system’ that plays on the part of the human subconscious that makes decisions.
As humans we are highly interactive with our environments. When we are stimulated from a psychological aspect, we tend to make intuitive decisions based on the information we are processing.
Go back to the grocery store scenario. If we tend to notice items that are at eye level more than anywhere else, managers can capitalise on this information and possibly change the way we shop based on where he tells the staff to place those items. We are being nudged to make certain decisions.
Choice architect is a very powerful tool. Some may even be concerned as to how people with that power use it. Certainly it can be used for monetary gain, but the possibilities that choice architect offers can greatly benefit the public as well.
What if we placed sugary cereals up high, typically out of sight of most shoppers? How about healthy snacks at eye level and not crisps? Suddenly, we’ve changed the way people eat.
Concepts like choice architect are important as we think about campaigning to ameliorate problems that are growing epidemics in our society; obesity, cancer, environmental concerns. Great changes can be made to our daily lives by taking the time to design an experience for the public in order to get the desired results.