Nudge in a nutshell
What is nudging then? The term nudge, and nudging, gained popularity in 2008, when coined in a book by Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler. In 2017, the latter was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his contribution to behavioural economics.
A nudge, in a behavioural context, refers to steering an individual’s behaviour in a given, desired direction; influencing their choices without removing other alternatives. It is a gentle push without legislation, carrots or/and sticks. Human behaviour is often irrational and can also be hard to predict. Nudging can therefor act as an instrument for influencing an individual’s behaviour and choices, in a more preferable way. If used successfully, you can increase a change in behaviour or attitude with nothing more than a gentle tweak and a soft touch.
Nudging is an effective tool for achieving a more sustainable world, and there are many nudging techniques that are proven efficient. Here are 5 nudging techniques that is used frequently with great results:
- A friendly reminder – in the right place, at the right time
- Framing – how the message is presented and by whom
- Social norms – compliance with the group
- Direct feedback – the impact of your actions shown immediately
- Visualisation – making it clear to see the benefit for me
- Without context, the concepts are perhaps hard to grasp – but here is an examples, says Paoli Brunat. In the case of social norms, we as humans like to compare ourselves with others, our group. Most people feel uncomfortable acting outside social norms and pleasant when they have a feeling of belonging. We also love to hear that we are better than average and tend to compare ourselves with others. A good example of wanting to be as good as your neighbour, or even better, was adapted by the power company Opower.
By presenting the customers private energy usage, as well as their neighbours, in their energy use home report they could see how much energy they were using, in relations to each other. This simple data, made visible in an easy way, triggered something in the users; a desire to be better than their next-door neighbour. The effect being that the energy usage of the customers dropped significantly.