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The Elements of Choice

Why the Way We Decide Matters

Eric J. Johnson

‘Indispensable’ Daniel Kahneman

How do you get people to agree to donate their organs? What’s the trick to reading a wine list? What’s the perfect number of potential matches a dating site should offer? 

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. To overcome the common faults in our decision-making and enable better choices in any situation involves conscious and intentional decision design.

Transcending 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, yet they impact our reasoning every day.

This book doesn’t simply analyse the mental fallacies that trip us up. It goes further to show us what good decision-making looks like – that it can be both moral and effective.

  • Publication date: February 10, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861541188
  • RRP: £20.00
  • Pages: 400
  • Publication date: February 10, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861541195
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 400


‘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

‘Eric Johnson is an absolute giant – one of the pioneers of modern behavioural science, with an unmatched
combination of theoretical sophistication, a firm moral core, and a keen practical sense. He’s a brilliant thinker, a terrific storyteller, and a fun, vivid writer. He’s a hero of mine, and I read everything he writes.’

Cass Sunstein, author of Nudge

‘Illuminating… A strong argument for more thoughtfully presenting options to yield better choices.’


‘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

‘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

‘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

‘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

‘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

‘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. The 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

Eric J. Johnson

Eric J. Johnson is Norman Eig Professor of Business and director of the Center for Decision Sciences at the Columbia Business School. His academic awards include the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology, Fellow of the Association of Consumer Research and an honorary doctorate in behavioural economics from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

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