Choice Architecture

What is good ‘choice architecture’ in career choices?

“Choice architecture describes the way in which decisions are presented to people. There is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ choice architecture which has no influence on the way decisions are made.

“More restricted sets of choices or information are sometimes regarded as being less neutral since the editing of choice sets and information requires certain value judgements to be made. However, the provision of wider choices sets with more complete provision of information can result in more people disengaging or making poor choices through lack of ability to interpret information.

“All choice architecture involves trade-offs between different types of potential harm and are treated with different levels of trust or suspicion. Young people can face highly edited choice sets presented by, for example, their parents; or much less edited choice sets – for example when they conduct career searches online.

“A less edited choice set does not equate to more empowered individuals if it results in choice overload and disengagement. It is not more ‘neutral’ if it leads to growing inequalities between those who are able to work with more complex information and those who are not.

“Good choice architecture should present young people with a manageable set of decisions through an architecture that has been edited on the basis of a valid understanding of what is relevant and pertinent to that young person. These are the ‘choices that matter’ for that young person. While, on one level, some of these choices are individual to every young person, in some cases, the key information and understanding is something that applies to a great many people – for example questions about the value of different post-18 options.

“Personalisation is central to the creation of good choice architecture in complex scenarios. Personalisation means the degree to which the construction of choice sets and information sets is determined by what is known about an individual. Zero personalisation occurs when everybody has access to the same information and has to identify what is relevant to them. Weak personalisation occurs when information sets are created which are relevant to very large numbers of ‘average’ people – for example when information about career choices tells you about the average for a whole population of people entering into a particular career.”

This excerpt is taken from the Careers and Enterprise Company report ‘A response to the Moments of Choice Research’

Download the full report (PDF) here: A response to the Moments of Choice research