My husband recently pointed me to an interview with Rory Sutherland and the following video of his TED Talk.

Similar to Predictably Irrational and Nudge, Sutherland's view is that people don't make decisions on pure economic value alone.  Intangible value plays a large role, although many are loathe to admit it.

"There is a basic view that real value involves making things, involves labor.  It involves engineering.  It involves limited raw materials.  And that what we add on top is kind of false.  It's a fake version and there is a reason for some suspicion and uncertainty about it." [Quote transcribed from the video.]

Sutherland believes that 1) all value is relative, subjective, and 2) persuasion is better than compulsion.

"…how many problems of life can be solved by actually tinkering with perception rather than that tedious, hardworking, and messy business of actually trying to change reality."

While his extreme (and tongue-in-cheek) example of "placebo education" may seem dangerous and General Mill's approach to selling Shreddies (a cereal sold in Canada) may seem ridiculous, there is an element of value here – and some plain common sense.

"It's not that marketing-driven or advertising-led solutions can solve
everything. That's absolutely not true. What seems strange to me,
though, is that people don't at least try them first. Instead,
governments try to solve their problems by compulsion. My view is that
we should try and solve the problem by persuasion, and if that fails we
can try compulsion or harder-level nudging."

It's worth the 16+ minutes to watch the video.  His examples are both brilliant and incredibly entertaining.

(Kent Anderson, from the Scholarly Kitchen, also wrote about this in his post Can the Creativity of Social Persuasion Cure "Corporate Asperger's Syndrome"?)

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