June 23, 2024

Name: Behavior bumps.

Age: Nudge theory was popularized by the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. But the term nudge was used in cybernetics, the science of communication and automatic control systems, in the 1990s.

And that means? As the title of that book suggests, we’re talking about using psychological tactics to gently steer people toward making better decisions.

Can you give me a example, please? In 2012, researchers at Cornell University, New York, published a study who found that students at a school cafeteria were more likely to choose healthy snacks, such as apples and carrots, if they were made more convenient and placed at eye level. The results helped spread the idea of ​​the push.

And proved it the theory works. Yes, healthy children. Not so fast.

You just said the children ate the carrots. No, I didn’t, and they didn’t. One part of the experiment was that the Cornell team looked at what happened after the children paid for their food.

The carrots not eaten? They were thrown in And the nudged ended up eating the same as the un-nudged.

It’s actually worse because of the waste. Where. It also raises questions about whether nudging has any effect or benefit in the long run. Now marketing academics Evan Polman from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Sam Maglio from the University of Toronto have done research on this and wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal.

What did they do? It was an experiment in which participants were given opportunities to log into a website to get a daily fix of trivia, and they used various nudging strategies to encourage some of them. The details of the study are not that important to Pass Notes, but what they found was that a higher percentage chose the option they were pushed towards.

Eh… doesn’t that mean the nudging works? Wait, because that’s what they did – they waited. For eight months! And then they found that the participants who were bumped visited the site 42% less often than people who weren’t bumped.

So long term, could the nudging have a negative effect? In this case, yes. It was a similar story with another experiment they did: people who were incentivized to get a plant were less likely to take care of it.

The plants died? I’m afraid it is. Sixteen percent sooner than the plants chosen by those who did not need to be pounded.

Almost as if a decision coming from you (rather than being pushed towards it, however gently) maybe mean more? Almost.

Do say: (As Polman and Maglion conclude): “Drops can be a good first step. But that’s all they are: a first step.”

Don’t say: “Push push, wink wink.”

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