What is nudging? Can you give practical examples of nudges? Here you will find answers to these and many more questions.

Questions about nudging

What is nudging?

It is easy to believe that us humans are rational beings, but many decisions we make are based on emotions, autopilot or shortcuts our brain takes. Nudging as a method is focused on influencing individuals in a desired direction - without using carrot or stick. No options are added or removed, instead, the situation is designed to ease the right choice with a friendly push in the right direction.

How does nudging work?

Nudging can be used within several different sustainability areas and there are many ways you can work with nudges. For example, favorable preselections, such as two-sided printing on the printer. Another example is facilitating everyday life, and preventing common pitfalls and rules of thumb. You can also use social norms, framing messages and reminders.

It is simply about using behavioral science to design the situation so that the individual acts as he or she actually wants to - in a physical, mental or digital environment.

How do you know that nudging works?

We measure the effect of nudging by comparing the situation with a reference result, i.e. a situation with the same conditions, but where no nudging has been used. This way we can see if a nudge works or not, and also how well it works.

Who can use nudging to change behaviors?

There are really no restrictions. Authorities and municipalities can nudge customers, employees or suppliers, idea-based organizations can nudge members, colleagues can nudge each other, parents can nudge children and children can nudge parents. Moreover, everyone can nudge themselves, so the possibilities are endless and the potential is great.

What differs nudging from marketing?
There is an overlap between certain types of nudges and marketing strategies, but the real difference is their purpose. Marketing is based on a commercial interest where the goal is to sell more whether you want to buy or not. Nudging is based on good intentions and a transparent way of working to help people act the way they actually desire - but are not always able to. It is largely about influencing in a way that we can assume will increase the person's well-being and welfare in the long run.

Exemples of tested nudges:

  • By making ashtrays more visible and using humorous messages, the number of cigarette butts put out in ashtrays can increase by 70%.
  • Using participation in the smart grid as default, electricity suppliers can increase the proportion of households that choose to participate. Read more
  • Reducing the size of the plate or bowl at buffets at e.g. hotels can lead to considerable reductions in food waste and overconsumption. Read more

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