The Power Of The Middle Option

Behavioral economists like Dan Ariely and Cass Sunstein are in one way or another have been associated with President Obama’s campaign or administration. It appears people who pitch the President are also taking lessons from the behavioral economists.

One of the concepts of behavioral economics is the power of the middle option – given three options at three different price points most people aggregate towards the middle option. The same principle now seem to be applied in troop requests to the President. General Stanley McChrystal sent three options to the President for his Afghanistan troop request:

  1. 60,000
  2. 40,000
  3. far fewer than 40,000 but with consequences

The general recommends 40,000 troops.

I bet this will be the option he will end up getting, except that the President understands behavioral economics as well and may look beyond this versioning.