What Are Nudges?

Podcast of the Day

"Nudge" was the best-selling book that David Cameron famously ordered his shadow cabinet to read over their summer holidays. The previous Labour government had already shown some interest in the new science of behavioural economics, but as Prime Minister, Cameron put the ideas of University of Chicago behavioural economist, Richard Thaler, at the heart of his government, and set up the world's first Behavioural Insights Team, or "Nudge Unit".

Based in the Cabinet Office and led by psychologist, David Halpern, this small team is chewing over ways to persuade us to make the "right" decisions about the way we live using a nudge, rather than a regulatory shove - but will it work ?

Claudia Hammond talks to the Behavioural Insights Team about where they believe they can really make a difference and finds out whether the psychological research to date, justifies the belief that major policy challenges like the economy and public health, can be tackled using behavioural science.

And Claudia hears from the critics, sceptical that evidence of individual behaviour change can be extrapolated to whole populations when it comes to the most serious problems in our society.

Listen to the All in the Mind episode on The "Nudge" to Good Behaviour

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Nudges, small design changes that can markedly affect individual behavior, have been catching on. These techniques rely on insights from behavioral science, and when used ethically, they can be very helpful. But we need to be sure that they aren’t being employed to sway people to make bad decisions that they will later regret.

Whenever I’m asked to autograph a copy of “Nudge,” the book I wrote with Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor, I sign it, “Nudge for good.” Unfortunately, that is meant as a plea, not an expectation...

Continue reading Richard H. Thaler's article: The Power of Nudges, for Good and Bad

Further Reading

Nudge theory (or nudge) is a concept in behavioural science, political theory and economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to try to achieve non-forced compliance to influence the motives, incentives and decision making of groups and individuals. The claim is that nudges are at least as effective, if not more effective, than direct instruction, legislation, or enforcement. The concept has influenced British and American politicians. Several nudge units exist around the world at the federal level (UK, Germany, Japan and others) as well as at the international level (OECD, World Bank, UN)...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Nudge Theory

Related Topics

Economics | Cognitive BiasesDecision Theory | FreedomPersuasion | PowerSociology | Utilitarianism

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