Nudge for Change

It can be the simple things in life that lead to changing behaviour. Some of those working in the behaviour change space find it perplexing that people simply don’t do what they are asked or even, what they tell us in that research, they are going to do.I don’t find it surprising all at and I can often find examples in my own behaviour! The reality is that we all go through life operating most of the time through unconscious decision thinking – even if we don’t admit it. Rational, fact and information based appeals fail, as they simply don’t have an effect on our decision-making process.

Choice architecture, commonly referred to as ‘nudges’, involves making changes to the environment that make it easier for people to do the behaviour we want.

As with all approaches it cannot be universally applied with success. However, in some cases it can be surprisingly effective and straightforward to implement

I like this Danish example of three simple strategies, which were used to greatly increase the use of hand sanitizer in hospitals – a key way to reduce infection and improve patient outcomes.

The combination of product placement (moving the sanitizer from tucked away beside the sink to just beside come in the door), colour (a bright red sign that’s hard to miss) and normative messaging (use this product to protect the people you care about i.e. the person you are coming to visit) all seem like common sense and they worked

With a combination of all three nudges, sanitizer use increased from 3% (baseline) to 67%. That’s a fantastic increase.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to make changes in the environment.