Friday, October 31, 2014

Nudges not always more effective than active choice

Organ Donors Want Choices - Bloomberg View: "Consider one seeming no-brainer: making “donate my organs” the default status, as much of Europe does, rather than requiring people to opt in, which is the U.S. policy. There’s a lot of research showing that people tend to blindly go along with whatever the default is, so simply flipping the switch ought to give us more organs at basically no cost to society.

In fact, says Keith Humphreys, the opposite is true: Americans actually donate organs at higher rates."

Maybe nudges work for questions that we do not give a lot of thought to but where the typical person, if they thought about it, would agree with the view of experts. Nudges are fine for savings plans and avoiding extra helpings of desserts, but more problematic if we are talking about removing the organs of someone we love and who is, by the standards that obtained until just a generation ago, still alive. Also, there is a conflict of interest involved in organ donation that is not so apparent in the case of dietary choices and proportions of ones income placed into savings.

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