Have you ever heard of the nudge theory? It is a concept in behavioural science, economics, and political theory that explore the ways that small, subtle changes in policy can effect the ways that we live our lives on a big and small-scale basis. Experts talk about it as ways that prod us in to behaving a bit better, and gentle tweaks that encourage us to make the right decisions, or sometimes from a cynical stand point, the wrong decisions! To help you understand a little better, here are some ways the nudge theory influences you without you realising!
1. Queueing at Tills
When you queue up at a shop register and have to wait, you will see that there are lots of “impulse buys” including little items, snacks, and such that are lined up along with you, trying to get you to add a few more things to your cart before you have to pay! If they are sugary snacks, this will be a bad decision, but if they are healthy, it’s a positive thing!
2. Waiting for the Train
The convenient yellow lines on a train station platform are non verbal contributors to the nudge rule! You instinctively see them and follow the rules that you should not stand over them, even though you probably aren’t stupid enough to be hit by a train if you stand a tiny bit closer to the platform!
3. Reading Post
When you get letters from important organisations, for example, a letter reminder that it is time to sort your taxes out, you will probably see a line at the top that read something like “most people complete their tax by…” with a date next to it. Subconsciously, you have been nudged to follow in line and most people to follow suit!
4. Paying into Your Pension
Have you noticed when you get all of the information about your pension, they show you different scenarios for the future about what kind of post work income you can enjoy depending on how much you pay in? These are little nudge incentives to get you to opt in for the highest amounts possible.
5. Ordering Lunch
Food menus are completely filled with nudge theory tactics, from the pricing of dishes to the calorie counts that are included to the descriptions and the dishes that they choose to include photos of.
6. Social Media
Social media has become a stomping ground for nudge theory tactics, maybe most glaringly of all, all of the political accounts that are constantly sending out calls to vote and to register. I don’t think that there is any arguing that this isn’t a good thing in the long run, though!
7. Buying Flights
This is one of the worst examples of nudging. You see it on airline websites when you are looking to buy a flight, and you will notice a message somewhere on the screen that reads “only two seats left” or something similar. This usually isn’t the case at all, and is just a tactic to get you to complete your purchase quickly.
8. Online Shopping
There are literally thousands of ways that we are nudged during online shopping! From the products that come with ‘most popular’ labels to products that are suggested to you because you have bought something else. All of these little things add up to trying to get you spend more and more money!
These are just little examples of the ways the nudge theory influences us but if it take it further down the line, it becomes scary to think just how much we might be being influenced and, let’s be honest, manipulated in everything we do and the decisions we make.