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Nudge, Nudge or Shove, Shove—The Right Way for Nudges to Increase the Supply of Donated Cadaver Organs

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Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008) contend that mandated choice is the most practical nudge for increasing organ donation. We argue that they are wrong, and their mistake results from failing to appreciate how perceptions of meaning can influence people's responses to nudges. We favor a policy of default to donation that is subject to immediate family veto power, includes options for people to opt out (and be educated on how to do so), and emphasizes the role of organ procurement organizations and in-house transplant donation coordinators creating better environments for increasing the supply of organs and tissues obtained from cadavers. This policy will provide better opportunities for offering nudges in contexts where in-house coordinators work with families. We conclude by arguing that nudges can be introduced ethically and effectively into these contexts only if nudge designers collaborate with in-house coordinators and stakeholders.

Keywords: decision making; end-of-life issues; organ transplantation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Michigan State University, 2: Rochester Institute of Technology, 3: University of Pennsylvania,

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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