This is related to a theory of social and economic policy called “nudging” which puts these ideas into practice. In a recent book by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge, the authors suggest that by changing the language of these surveys, or placement of objects in a particular way in a store or a public place, you can convince and influence people to make decisions you – or the government – want them to make.
Because we basically live in a free society, they say, we can “nudge” people to do things that are good for them. For example, placing all the healthy items in a store at eye-level so they will be consumed more. These two Chicago economists call this “libertarian paternalism” – however ironic that sounds – because it recognizes the freedom to choose, but uses unconscious nudging techniques to get society to move in the “right way”.
Dan Ariely shows how decision making really is not up to us, and that we are slaves to suggestion and persuasion.