Şervan Kurdî
How Far to Nudge? How Far to Nudge? Assessing Behavioural Public Policy Like many people, I drifted into nudge. In the 2000s, I was working on measures to encourage citizens to participate in politics and civic life. As someone interested in how to improve public policy outcomes, I had become intrigued about how to encourage citizens to do a wider range of acts for collective benefit. I wanted to motivate them with messages and acts of persuasion to overcome constraints on collective action (see John et al. 2011). In short, I discovered myself doing behavioural public policy at the same time as Thaler and Sunstein’s (2008) book on nudge came out. I found the ideas and language of the behavioural sciences very helpful as I developed a research programme, especially as I was using randomized controlled trials, which is the method of choice for testing behavioural interventions. This is a paragraph of the book "How Far to Nudge?" What does the author mean by the word "nudge"? Does he mean to encourage? Thanks a lot in advance
Nov 13, 2019 11:57 PM
Answers · 4
Literally, a "nudge" is a small or gentle push. It urges someones to move in a particular direction, but doesn't force them. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein are behavioral economists who wrote an influential book entitled "Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness." It concerns public policy. The idea is to encourage desired behavior through gentle "nudges" rather than force. For example, in the United States, many employers offer retirement savings plans called "401(k) plans." They are intended to encourage workers to save for their own retirement, by offering a tax advantage and, often, financial contributions from employers. They are a good deal, but workers tend not to bother signing up for them, perhaps because they don't want to have contributions taken out of their paycheck. An example of a "nudge" is a rule that says that employers will automatically have 3% of their salary taken out of their paycheck and put into their 401(k) account _unless they file paperwork saying not to do it._ It doesn't restrict their freedom. They don't need to do anything difficult to stop the contribution, they just need to ask. But by making a 3% contribution the default, it sends the message that "this is a good idea," and it makes it slightly easier to do it than not to do it. It doesn't force employees to contribute, it just "nudges" them. The concept has become popular. As a result, if we see the word "nudge" in a book about behavioral economics or public policy, we assume it means "Oh, one of Thaler and Sunstein's 'nudges.'"
November 14, 2019
Thank you very much, Jonathan, for your detailed answer.
November 14, 2019
Yes, the author means to encourage behavior, you are correct. For example, the UK created the Behavioural Insights Team that is also known as the "nudge unit," tasked with creating policy or making changes that would affect people's actions (hopefully in a positive way). The United States administration under Obama did a similar thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioural_Insights_Team
November 14, 2019
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Şervan Kurdî
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