Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MA

College

College of Creative Arts

Department

Intermedia & Photography

Committtee Chair

Eve Faulkes

Committee Co-Chair

Joseph Galbreath

Committee Member

Kofi Opoku

Committee Member

Michael Sherwin

Abstract

Choice architecture, a term coined in the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by behavioral scientist Richard H. Thaler and professor of law Cass R. Sunstein, is the belief that no choice can be neutral because the way in which a choice is presented influences the decision-maker. Designers, perfectly positioned to structure choices in both print and digital format, should equally embrace this role and handle it with great responsibility. Rather than use the power to structure choice architecture to bolster consumerism, we should instead harness the opportunity to help individuals make choices that improve their health, finances, relationships, and prospects - thereby creating change that could scale to families, communities, states, and even entire nations. This project is an exploration of the ways a designer can structure the choice architecture for the first major life decision many young folks face - which college to attend. Considered within the context of the current West Virginia college landscape, and using qualitative and quantitative data gathered from a group representing the target audience, the project provides a model for leading students through the complex process of evaluating options and making a decision that is best suited to their situation, without encroaching on their freedom of choice.

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