What is nudging?

What is nudging, or puffing, as it is also called? How do we know that nudging works? Who can use nudging to change behaviors? We answer these questions and much more about nudging, behavioral design, and behavioral science.

WHAT IS nudging?

What is nudging?

It's easy to believe that humans are rational beings, but many decisions we make are emotionally driven. Decision-making often goes on autopilot or arises because of shortcuts our brain takes. Nudging as a method is about influencing individuals' behaviors in the desired direction - without either a whip or a carrot. You also do not add or remove options. Instead, you arrange the selection situation to make it easy to do the right thing with a friendly push in the right direction.

How does nudging work?

Nudging can be used in several different areas of sustainability, and there are several ways to work with nudges. It may involve good presets, such as duplex printing on the printer. It can also be about making everyday life easier and preventing common pitfalls and rules of thumb. You can also use social norms, smart framing of messages, and reminders.

Nudging is simply a matter of using behavioral design to design the selection situation so that the individual acts as they really want - in a physical, mental, or digital environment.

How do we know that nudging works?

We measure the effect of nudging by comparing the situation with a reference result. It can be a situation with the same conditions, but where no nudging has taken place. In this way, you can see if a nudge works and how well it works.

Who can use nudging to change behaviors?

There are not really any restrictions. Authorities and municipalities can nudge residents, companies can nudge customers, employees, or suppliers. Idea-driven organizations can nudge members. Colleagues can nudge each other. Parents can nudge children, and children can nudge parents. Everyone can also nudge themselves, so the possibilities are many, and the potential is great.

What is the difference between nudging and marketing?
There is an overlap between certain types of nudges and marketing strategies, but the big difference is the purpose. Marketing is done out of a commercial interest where the goal is to sell more whether the consumer wants to buy or not. Nudging is about using good intentions and transparent working methods to help people act as they really want to - but not always can. It is much about influencing in a way that we can assume will increase the person's well-being and welfare in the long run.

Examples of tested nudges:

  • By dividing the food into smaller portions, for example, cutting brownies into smaller pieces, you make it easier to take less. It can reduce both overconsumption and unnecessary use of resources.

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