I’ve been predicting this for years, and was thrilled to see his work recognized. He was one of my advisors in graduate school, and his influence has been constant and strong throughout my career.
He has shifted thinking in economics to recognize that people don’t make perfect calculations like a computer, that we’re all fundamentally human. But that does not mean we are unpredictable.
We just need to expand our toolkit a bit in thinking through the right models to use to predict behavior in specific situations. And we have witnessed a Behavioral Economics 2.0 blossom in the past decade, very much standing on the shoulders of Richard Thaler and the ideas he put forward (along with Cass Sunstein) in their book Nudge. In the world of poverty research, that’s meant a remarkable increase in the number of anti-poverty strategies that incorporate human psychology. For example, we know that people who want to save, but have trouble doing so, can when the circumstances are right. Sometimes that means designing a way of savings that incorporates human psychology.
As one example, we’ve used commitment savings to get around the problems of everyday temptation. People who choose to can commit to a savings goal and as they go along lock their savings away out of reach until they reach a certain goal or date. If they fail to reach it they agree to lose what they’ve saved.
Even though we’re not giving them anything material, just designing an economic tool – a savings account – in a way that uses human psychology and motivations, can help boost people’s economic outcomes.
Such commitment issues affect many facets of our lives, from saving to exercise to smoking to weight loss to studying. I started a website stickK.com (Richard Thaler discussed this website in his book Nudge, and I discuss it as well in my principles textbook with Jonathan Morduch).
On this website people are able to write commitment contracts to help themselves reach personal goals. This is an excellent example of a tool that embraces an expanded set of ideas from principles of economics to then help individuals make better decisions for themselves.
我们只需要稍微扩展一下工具箱，就可以想出用来预测特定情境下的行为的正确模型。在过去十年间，我们已经目睹了行为经济 2.0 的繁荣发展，这在很大程度上是依靠于理查德·泰勒和他在《助推》一书中提出的思想（与凯斯·桑斯坦一起著作）。在贫困研究中，那意味着包含人类心理的反贫困策略大幅增加。例如，我们知道那些想存钱但是很难做到的人在什么时候能够成功实现这一目标。有时，那意味着设计一种包含人类心理的存储方式。