Nudge theory

Nudge theory is an idea that uses psychological concepts to explain why people behave in certain ways.

According to Nudge theory, it takes only small environmental changes, reinforcement or using individual’s inertia to affect people’s behavior. One example, related to eating behavior, is the attempt to encourage healthy eating. Supermarkets simply placed arrows on the floor pointing to the fruit and vegetables, which had the effect of increasing sales of healthy food.

This theory also has a variety of applications to the workplace.

For example, the UK government wanted its citizens to enrol in pensions. Thus, it created an ‘opt out’ system, in which it did not force people to enrol, but obliged people to contact the government if they wanted not to enrol in a pension saving plan. Only 10% of people did.

Another strategy for ‘nudging employees’ is creating new spaces in the workplace, as employees may find it difficult to change their behaviour in a familiar setting. Thus, if you do not want your employees to congregate next to the water cooler, you can change the environment around the cooler, e.g. make it smaller, and thus this behaviour may no longer be desirable. You do not have to force your employees to behave in a certain way, but can subtly ‘nudge’ them in a way that will make your employees more effective, and your business more successful.  

Nudge theory was originally suggested by Thaler and Sunstein in their book Nudge. You can find out more about both academics and many more behavior science experts by visiting the “Behaviour Explorers” scorecard on rise.

If you want to find out more about how Nudge theory can help your business, see the infographic below created by PsySci.

Nudge-Theory.jpg

This is a guest post by Marcus Clarke of PsySci. Thanks Marcus!

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