5 May

Nudging the mood?
Important consequential decisions in life are hostage to our mood. What we intend to do (and actually do) often varies by mood. Mood, in turn, can vary due to a variety of exogenous reasons – negative swings can be caused by ill-health (a headache, or allergies) and positive swings can be caused by a nice thing said by someone you meet by accident. This variation is a proof of our irrationality. The irrational aspect is not just misattribution of ill-health to mood, but why mood at all affects our decisions. Being aware of the relationship between mood and decisions can allow one to choose better. Given the central place mood occupies in decision making, it is likely that a nudge to affect the mood would be powerful.

End of a nudge
One of the paper-towel dispensers I use has the following sticker ‘These come from trees.’ This is a famous ‘nudge’ (In Sunstein/Thaler terminology). So far so good. Till perhaps a few months ago, I always read the sticker when I used the dispenser. Yesterday I noticed that I had stopped noticing the sticker. This contrasts with my behavior towards the hotel notes about saving water – which I still read. I think that is so partly because there is so much time in a hotel room. Nudges for quick everyday decisions perhaps need to change over time.