Homer Vs. Spock – Insights into Psychological Behavior

In Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wellness, and Happiness, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler dive deep into our behavioral patterns by classifying our “Homer” and “Spock” urges.  Have you ever taken an extra piece of dessert without realizing what you were doing? Or, are you more of a planner – consciously deciding every decision you make?

Although It may seem that every choice we make is conscious, in reality, about 95% percent of our choices are made unconsciously. Sunstein and Thaler classify these systems of thinking into two categories: “Homer” and “Spock.” Our “Homer” way of thinking is automatic – it’s all about instinct. These are the easy, quick, and unconscious decisions that are made within half a second. These are the decisions like reaching for that second donut in the morning.

However – the logical system, or “Spock” concerns the rational part of our brain to make rational, controlled, and conscious decisions. Most people believe that they’re always thinking with “Spock,” but that’s not the case. Since a majority of our decisions are made with our “Homer,” we need a gentle nudge in the right direction. Some examples of nudges to combat our “Homer” instincts include having healthy snacks at eye level or a sign to turn off the light.

Sunstein and Thaler argue that your “Spock” and “Homer” are in constant conflict. “Spock” is trying to promote your long-term welfare, but “Homer” disrupts this by complying with feelings, temptations, and strong will. Research has found that the two parts of the brain are in severe conflict – some parts of the brain get tempted while other parts are able to resist. The brain is in battle with either “Homer” or “Spock” bound to lose . The goal is to help give the part of the brain able to resist temptation a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Find out more about the nudge phenomenon with our #NudgeSpotting contest!

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