Dr. Falk builds on Nobel prize winning behavioral economics Richard Thaler and Cass Sustein’s bestselling juggernaut, Nudge, which argues that subtle interventions in our environment (nudges) can make new and desired behaviors easier to adopt by working with our default ways of thinking. You want someone to eat healthier? Move the fruit to eye level. You want employees to use less paper? Make everyone share one printer. While this Nudge theory of persuasion can be effective in many ways, it can also feel like a benevolent manipulation or puppetry. Dr. Falk presents a revolutionary way to think about personal change and persuasion by tapping into ones own values system–but not the way you might think.

The Neuroscience of Becoming More Purposeful and Persuasive
by Dr. Emily Falk
W.W. Norton, Winter 2024
(via Park & Fine Literary and Media)

Bringing the fresh perspective of a neuroscientist to a conversation long dominated by behavioral economists and social psychologists, Dr. Falk’s research is focused on a straight-forward question: What is actually happening in the brain when people make decisions? The answer is the value calculation, which has surprisingly little to do with what we typically think of as “values,” such as religion, political views, family tradition, or even our own stated goals. Dr. Falk reveals how our brains use the value calculation to balance a messy array of information to reach decisions in real time by playing a moment-to-moment, behind the scenes game of “would you rather” with a very simple set of inputs: self-relevance, social relevance, and what is front of mind in the moment. Understanding the science behind this value calculation, and how we can tip the scales in favor of the behaviors and values we want to prioritize, can allow us to make better decisions for ourselves – and make us more persuasive with others.
As millions of people are re-thinking their careers, re-examining their relationships, and prioritizing self-care, there has never been a more important time for a book to help readers make more meaningful decisions and connections. Most of us have default answers for both the big and small questions in our lives, but WOULD YOU RATHER will teach you how to reconsider what you
really want to place front and center in your value system, and how to realign your choices in ways that will help you interrupt default thinking, recommit to your most positive habits, and open you up to new paths, new friendships, new perspectives, and new discoveries.

Dr. Emily Falk is a Professor of Communication, Psychology, Marketing and Operations, Information and Decisions, at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. A leading expert in the science of attitude and behavior change, Dr. Falk has been recognized with numerous awards in her field, including a DARPA Young Faculty Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and a Fulbright grant. Her work has been widely covered in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, Scientific American and others.

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