A Brief Introduction to Nudge Theory
Nudge Theory is a modern concept for understanding of how people think and decide, helping people in improving their decision making process, managing changes and identifying existing unhelpful patterns on people. It is basicly concerned with the design of choices, i.e. how we make our decisions. It is based on indirect encourgement.
We can use Nudge Theory in almost every aspects of our lives. Whether you are a manager, parent, teacher, leader is not important, because Nudge Theory offers a shift in the mindset and a toolset for its usage. It can help the parenting of a child, or at the other extreme it can help a world government to manage population.
Originally, the theory was developed in US in behavioral economics by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnman and then further improved mainly upon Kahnmahn’s work by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.
The dictionary definition for nudge is “prod someone gently with one's elbow in order to attract attention." and "touch or push (something) gently or gradually." Thaler and Sunstein don't give a specific definition for the word Nudge, but a definition ' is given in the book as follows:
"...A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not...")
So how can we use Nudge Theory in our lives?
For example let us suppose you are a parent. If you give direct instructions to your child to tidy his/her room, then this is an example of “enforced change.” In an approach with Nudge Theory you play a room-tidying game with the child. This helps not to force the child for cleaning the room, but it intuitively teaches him/her that this activity can be done with fun. Nudge theory accepts that people have certain capabilities, attitudes knowledge and understand the reality of situations.
Another example is joining a gym. Sometimes when we think of some new way of being fitter or healtier, so then we can directly come up with the idea of joining a gym and maybe pay for a year-membership! The idea behind this is that paying beforehand “are going to force” us to go that gym and make sport. Alas! In fact according to studies this is not the case. (Consumers who choose a monthly contract are 17 percent more likely to stay enrolled beyond one year than users committing for a year.) Now let’s think with a Nudge technique: We want to be healty and fit, so why not squeeze some tricks into our daily activites that we’ve already been doing? For example we can use stairs in metro stations and in buildings, or two times a week we can park the car a 10-minute-walk distance before our destination so that we can walk 10 minutes.
As you can see, traditional directed and enforced interventions impose directly actions, have dichotomous options and include pressure, while nudge intervention is indirect, educational, helps to self-discovery and include no pressure.
Can you think of other examples that we can apply Nudge techniques? I would be happy when you write down so that we can think together some helpful strategies based on Nudge theory.