Have You Ever Been Nudged? Here’s An Explainer on Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory explainer

How many hike users here? You must be aware of how users could nudge each other on Hike. Well, nudging is much more than that. Its a theory popularized by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein through their book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness”. But why is it gaining popularity during Covid times and why are administrations round the globe keen to adopt it to effectively communicate with people? Find out here now.

Crux of the Matter

What Is A Nudge?
Nudge in generic sense is a gentle touch or push. As described by one of the founding fathers of the nudge theory, Richard Thaler: “Nudge is any small feature in the environment that attracts our attention and eventually influences our behavior”.

Nudge theory is fundamentally rooted in the fact that, people make choices pretty quickly when under pressure. The decision is majorly guided by unconscious biases and hence lacks rationality. The idea is to enable people to make the right decision by limiting the biasness. That is when Thaler and Sunstein endorsed Choice Architecture.

What Is Choice Architecture?
It is different ways in which choices can be availed to the consumers such that they influence their decision.

A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decision

Richard Thaler

Example: Decoy Effect
In restaurants, we see an item that is the most expensive one in the entire menu. Closer to that, the second most expensive will be placed. Now restaurants, do not expect us to order the most expensive one. However, humans tend to calculate relatively. Thus, they find the second most expensive item to be a good bargain and order it, essentially fulfilling what restaurants had wished for in the first place. This is known as Decoy Effect.

Nudge Features

  • They are subtle interventions that guide people’s choices.
  • The interventions should be simple and cheap to be called a nudge.
  • It is based on positive reinforcement rather than coercion.
  • Putting fruits/veggies on an eye level to induce its buying is a nudge, but restricting junk food is not.

Nudging As A Policy Instrument

  • Displaying cancer pictures on packets of tobacco and cigarettes.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission was able to impact behaviours of millions simply by highlighting the effects of poor sanitation and the subsequent deaths it caused.
  • ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ and the entire selfie with daughter campaign, in response to PM’s appeal to protect girl child.

Nudging During Covid
On March 22, a voluntary Janta Curfew was announced for 14 hours. Janta Curfew was a request without any coercion by authorities, giving citizens a sense of ownership to behave in the desired manner. Through his virtual appearances, PM Modi also nudged people to wear masks and follow social distancing norms just like governments across the globe are resorting to such minor pushes that do no feel like a compulsion or coercion.

  • The ability to mentally cope up with a crisis quickly is called psychological resilience. People with psychological resilience can return back to pre-crisis status fast.
  • Psychological phenomena that is associated with emerging technology is called Cyberpsychology. It is a portmanteau of the words cyberspace and psychology.
  • Formulated by Fathali M. Moghaddam, the staircase model gives a psychological explanation as to why a small minority in the society commits acts of terrorism.