A bad nudge

The trick that makes self-checkouts almost tolerable

I spent the last few days in Deal and Folkestone with Professor Richard Thaler at Nudgestock, Ogilvy’s seaside festival of Behavioural Science. On my way home I decided to stop off at M&S to buy some runny scotch eggs and a pie, accompanied by some unwanted green things to make my basket look middle-class. Finding a long queue at the main checkout, I grudgingly took my goods to the self-checkout machines. (For the uninitiated, Richard Thaler is the co-author of Nudge, and more recently the author of Misbehaving. He is perhaps the godfather of behavioural economics, a dissident strand of economics which holds the outlandish view that the discipline might have something to learn from observing the behaviour of real people in everyday life, rather than concentrating on the serious business of constructing elegant mathematical models unsullied by any contact with humanity. ….[READ]

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