Lens 2: Choice Architecture

The Choice Architecture Lens is the one where most of the tools and principles that are commonly classified under Behavioral Economics or Behavioral Insights, etc. come in play.

The Lens is thus named because it truly is an analysis of how a specific choice is architected, whether the architecture is done explicitly with intent or just a byproduct of the situation. One of the main results of the past decade of work in behavioral science is that the context in which we make decisions influence our choices to a much larger extent than was previously known.

This lens can be applied at the whole behavior level but is most useful for a finely grained analysis of each touchpoint forming a behavior.

The tools and principles in this Lens are numerous so I grouped them in the 5 groups below. These can also be used to quickly do a first-pass analysis on all the touchpoints forming a customer journey for a type of behavior: they will then identify which touchpoint are the most amenable for behavioral intervention.

Data & Information presentation

This dimension is looking at the well-known biases and human tendencies at play when looking at quantified data and other structured information.

This is where framing effects, anchoring bias, etc. are at play.

If the touchpoint or behavior you’re analyzing presents some sort of data or structured information, you need to look at this dimension.

Options menu structure

This dimension looks at the actual choices offered to agents when they have to make a decision. Do they have to actually choose an option (forced choice) or can they postpone the decision? Do you offer plan A and B or decide to add plan C as well? Do you offer them a choice between existing behavior and targeted one only or throw also an easier-to-adopt intermediary behavior into the mix available?

Changing the structure of the options presented to a user is very powerful though many effects are coming into play and interacting with each other.

This dimension is mostly medium-independent because we center our analysis on the structure of the options menu itself, not how it is presented to the agent, which is treated in the tow other points below.

Copy & Contextual Persuasion

This dimension looks at the contextual persuasion elements used to influence behavior. This could be the addition of an arrow to a form, shifting the order of questions, and all copy changes are also in that category.

These elements are to a large extent medium-independent. For example, good copy will largely be effective in print and on digital media, though minor adjustments might need to be made to adapt as best as possible to each medium.

Salience, etc. are all tools that fall under this dimension.

Ergonomics, usability & user experience

This dimension is closely linked to the actual medium used within a particular touchpoint or behavior. Digital media will have different rules and impact than print. Mobile is very different than web. Wearables are yet another category, etc.

Some tools here will translate to other medium, some won’t. This category should also look at the user experience best practices existing in each field, which are not linked (formally anyway) to behavioral sciences.

Looking to influence behaviors through a mobile app? Well, you need to know the state of the art best practices of designing user interactions on mobile. Trying to nudge people entering hospitals into using hand disinfectant? Better know the best practices in terms of spatial architecture, etc.

Choice commitment

Finally, the last dimension to examine is to look at the ways to help people stick with their choices and actually follow through with them.

If the intended behavior in a situation does not have to be performed immediately, then the classic intention-behavior gap will apply and you need to examine this.

Tools and Best Practices

If you want to get more details on some of the tools and best practices when it comes to analyzing Choice Architecture, please see the Tools page!