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William & Mary Business Law Review

Authors

Peter H. Huang

Abstract

Many important decisions can be difficult; require focused, cognitive attention; produce delayed, noisy feedback; benefit from careful and clear thinking; and quite often trigger anxiety, stress, and other strong, negative emotions. Much empirical, experimental, and field research finds that we often make decisions leading to outcomes we judge as suboptimal. These studies have contributed to the popularity of the idea of nudging people to achieve better outcomes by changing how choices and information are framed and presented (also known as choice architecture and information architecture). Although choice architecture and information architecture can nudge people into better outcomes, choice architecture and information architecture also assume implicitly or explicitly that people’s decision-making competencies are immutable or too costly to improve and, therefore, choice architecture and information architecture fail to improve people’s decision-making competencies.

This Article advocates boosts to improve mindfulness, thinking, and diversity. Boosts differ from nudges in that boosts aim to improve decision-making competencies, instead of just decisionmaking outcomes. Mindfulness involves paying attention to life in an intentional way as it unfolds moment to moment. Mindfulness improves decision-making through many pathways, including by reducing stress and negative emotions. Recent economic research demonstrates that many cognitive biases exemplify lack of mindfulness about particular aspects of life. Thinking boosts include thinking technologies and diversity. Thinking technologies involve computer or digital technologies to assist people in their thinking. Examples of novel, fun thinking technologies include a financial entertainment computer video game where a player is a vampire managing a blood bar and planning for retirement, and video adventure games designed to teach players to recognize and mitigate their cognitive biases. Diversity creates bonuses for organizations by improving decision-making, creativity, innovation, prediction, problem-solving, and productivity.

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