Tag Archives: nudging

Nudge for good: How insights from behavioral economics can improve the world— and manipulate people

Nudge for good: How insights from behavioral economics can improve the world— and manipulate people | Source: World Bank Blog, Aug 16 2016 |

Richard H. Thaler is a world-renowned behavioral economist and professor of finance and psychology. Recently, he was interviewed by The Economist. The discussion covers some of the fundamental studies in the field, like “save more tomorrow” which encourages people to save more by signing up to increase their savings rate every year and auto-enrollment for pensions that have drastically increased employee participation in pension funds. thaler

Thaler also suggests, in the interview, that behavioral economics has the ability to influence human behavior for both good and bad.  He argues that much of what behavioral economics does is remove barriers.

The goal is not to change people but to make life easier, but that idea can be skewed by organizations or individuals looking to capitalize on the biases of people. Whenever he is asked to sign a copy of his book Nudge, he writes “nudge for good” which is a plea, he says, to improve the lives of people and avoid insidious behavior.

The list of ways companies nudge behavior is endless, and I would love to hear more examples from you all in the comments section. In the meantime here are a few- I’ll let you judge which ones “nudge for good”:

  • Waterborne diseases such as cholera cause widespread illness, especially among children, in developing countries without nation-wide water and sanitation networks. In Kenya, chlorine tablets are distributed by NGOs and other organizations, and people generally understand that the tablets disinfect their water, protecting them from disease. Nevertheless, usage rates are often low. Cost is not the barrier here, convenience is because routinely purifying water requires energy and attention. Michael Kremer of Harvard University and his colleagues found, through a series of randomized controlled trials conducted in Kenya, that providing chlorine as a concentrated liquid at prominently displayed dispensers at local water sources dramatically increase the rate of disinfection. The dispensers provided a visual reminder when and water was collected and made it easy to add the right does. Along with promotion by community members, this approach increased chlorine use by 53%. Thus, making it easier to disinfect water increased the rates at which tablets are used.

Read the complete article.

Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science

Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science, March 2016. 

Authors: David Neal, Ph.D. (Catalyst), Jelena Vujcic, M.P.H. (Catalyst), Rachel Burns Ph.D. (Catalyst), Wendy Wood, Ph.D. (University of Southern California) and Jacqueline Devine, MBA (World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program)

In this working paper, we draw on basic scientifc fndings from psychology, cognitive science, and behavioral economics to propose a framework of 8 System 1 Principles to support the initiation and maintenance of OD behavior change.

In doing so, we build from the general framework advanced in the World Bank Group’s (2015) World Development Report: Mind, Society, and Behavior, which emphasized three core insights from behavioral science, namely that people think (a) automatically, (b) socially and (c) using mental models that channel their decision-making.

 

New tactics to nudge habit change for open defecation behavior

New tactics to nudge habit change for open defecation behavior | Source: World Bank Water Blog, March 31 2016 |

Open defecation remains a critical global health challenge, affecting almost 1 billion people around the world and contributing significantly to the estimated 842,000 people who die each year because of poor sanitation, hygiene practices, and unsafe water supplies.

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Public toilet in the shanty town of Ciudad Pachacutec, Ventanilla District, El Callao Province – Peru Photo: Monica Tijero / World Bank

Most behavior change approaches and frameworks for addressing open defecation have focused on relatively conscious, “reflective”  drivers of behavior, including people’s emotions (such as pride or shame), rational knowledge (e.g., of germ theory), social norms, and explicit action plans (such as commitments to change).

Using the framework popularized by renowned social psychologist Daniel Kahneman, these factors can be described as “System 2” drivers of behavior i.e., relatively conscious and motivational factors. It is now well established, however, that human behavior can also be heavily influenced by “System 1” drivers i.e., relatively automatic, cue-driven factors.

In a newly released working paper by the World Bank Water Global Practice’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP)Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science”, we draw on basic scientific findings from psychology, cognitive science, and behavioral economics to propose a framework of eight “System 1” principles to support the initiation and maintenance of open defecation behavior change.

In doing so, the new working paper builds from the general framework advanced in the World Bank Group’s 2015 World Development Report “Mind, Society, and Behavior”, which emphasized three core insights from behavioral science, namely that people think automatically, think socially and think using mental models.

Read the complete article.

How the World Bank is ‘nudging’ attitudes to health and hygiene

How the World Bank is ‘nudging’ attitudes to health and hygiene | Source: The Guardian, March 4 2016 |

Nudge theory has been used to identify why people smoke or fail to pay taxes on time, can it now be used to fight malnutrition and open defecation?

Every two months, 800 women gather in a church courtyard in the village of Tritriva, Madagascar, to receive cash from the Malagasy government. Mothers of six- to 10-year-olds get the payment only if their children have regularly attended school. For those with children under five, it’s unconditional – but they are given information about family health and nutrition.

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Many of the problems governments and NGOs in developing countries are trying to fix are at least partly behavioural, says Varun Gauri. Photograph: Rob Cooper/AP

With more than half of Madagascar’s children chronically malnourished, it is vital these women take note. But the problem is not just financial. Breaking long-term habits, such as spending the bulk of your income on rice, is extremely difficult – especially, according to recent research, for those living in extreme poverty.

This is where nudge theory comes in. It is about using insights from behavioural science to identify reasons why people make bad choices, such as smoking or failing to pay taxes on time, and then testing small changes in the way choices are presented to “nudge” them into making better decisions. In the school example above, it was about optimising how these families spent the money they received from the government.

Read the complete article.