Nudge theory is the theory behind the way Nudjed works, and it has recently hit headlines because of its application in British politics – both David Cameron and Barack Obama are fans of the theory.
It’s a concept that explains how people think, make decisions, and behave. The theory was first put forward in the book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein, and is based on the Nobel prize-winning work of the Israeli-American psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.
The UK Government introduced a body called the Behavioural Insights Team in 2010. Their aim was to shape public behaviour through encouraging good choices, rather than through more traditional methods such as legislation, bans, taxes and benefits. For example, they created an initiative to encourage more unemployed people to attend job interviews by sending cleverly worded text prompts – after implementing the scheme, attendance increased by around 16%, and the initiative is now used in all job centres across the UK. You can read more about the government’s use of nudge theory in this report from BBC News.
So, how does nudge theory become Nudjed? Nudge theory proposes that the designing of choices should be based on how people actually think and decide (instinctively and rather irrationally), rather than how leaders and authorities traditionally (and typically incorrectly) believe people think and decide (logically and rationally).
For example, if the NHS or other authorities wanted make people healthier, they might use tools like the official recommended daily allowance of sugar. The problem with this is that those methods don’t really have much effect on the decisions ordinary people make in their day-to-day lives – we all know that doctors want us to eat less sugar, but that doesn’t stop us from deciding to have a chocolate bar when we’re hungry.
Nudge theory works by encouraging and enabling people to make the right choices. So, if you were to use Nudjed to encourage people to eat less sugar, we would use nudges (or ‘nudjes’, because we’re a startup and that’s the kind of thing we do) to inform people about the dangers of eating too much sugar. We could also suggest practical alternatives for other snacks you could have that are just as nice but have less sugar than a chocolate bar, like dried fruit or a trail mix with dark chocolate pieces.
Nudjed sends ‘nudjes’ in the form of text message or email reminders, which encourage you to stay on track with the healthy challenge you’ve decided to take. When we work with organisations, we could suggest that the company provides healthier snack options in the workplace – enabling people to make the right decision.
If you’d like to learn more about nudge theory, this article explains it very well. And if you’d like to learn more about how Nudjed can make you or your business healthier, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!