Choice architecture in Harvard’s Kirkland House dining hall

Reader Brooks Lambert-Sluder passes along an observation about utensil choice architecture at the 13 dining halls on the College campus at Harvard.

At twelve of those (dining halls), the tray and silverware are presented to diners before they approach the food.  I almost invariably take a knife, a fork, and a spoon.  At the end of many meals I find myself with a clean spoon, and sometimes even an unused knife. Of course, I still put those away in the dish room to be washed.

At the thirteenth (Kirkland House) the silverware appears after diners have filled their plates and bowls.  There, I only take a spoon when I have already gotten a bowl of soup.  This is a small nudge, no doubt, but a noticeable one.

Tags: ,

  • Mark Ballermann

    Or, the thirteenth hall has figured out that it’s easier to fill your plate with your hands unoccupied by silverware, thus minimizing mess.

  • Philip

    I love this one! I have complained for years at big get togethers that you should put the dinner ware at the end of the row. Like Mark said, it makes it difficult to carry then you don’t know what you are eating. I am glad to see somewhere possibly implementing it!

  • Jay

    This seems more like intuition than choice architecture.

  • Scott Talan

    compared to other schools this is a small nudge…check this out about DC colleges who offer no tray to use and what impact this has…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/17/AR2011021703343.html