Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and his co-author Cass R. Sunstein discovered that there are no neutral options. Every layout which we interact with, be it at the grocery store, the cafeteria, a restaurant menu, a car dealership etc. subtly determines the way which people interact with the setting.
This discovery has basically made the idea of “complete freedom to choose” obsolete. We know that everything matters now, and giving people freedom to choose is not real in the way we think it is. People now have the obligation to produce layouts that our in people’s best interest. For instance, putting the fruits and veggies at the start of the cafeteria line, leading to people eating less desserts and being overall healthier.
Thaler and Sunstein proposed an idea called “Paternal Liberalism”, which would sound like a controversial term at first glance for some. What they mean by paternal liberalism is simply, producing the layouts which would be in the best interest for the user and the creator, and not restricting choice.
The need for paternal liberalism is growing right now, with an increasingly dogmatic and divided political realm. Some people think we ought not be able to choose, some people insist on no hindrance on choice whatsoever, or anarchy. Now we know even anarchy is a system which promotes certain behaviours.
That government is best which governs least.Thomas Jefferson
Anybody who creates anything that will be interacted with by another human has a clear obligation to help the user interact in a beneficial way. The tricky part is, which way is most beneficial? The answer is, we don’t know, but there are clear ways that aren’t beneficial and those ought to be avoided first. Sorry, no dessert for breakfast.
Hustle it up!