Sceptics fail to grasp that this is a strategy that improves lives while treating citizens with dignity – unlike coercion, argues Cass Sunstein.
It is true that nudges are not a sufficient approach to some of our most serious problems, such as violent crime, poverty, and climate change. Nonetheless, they have five major advantages over coercive approaches.
First, people’s situations are highly diverse. By allowing people to go their own way, nudges reduce the costs of one-size-fits-all solutions.
Second, public officials have limited information. If official nudges are based on mistakes, the damage is far less severe than in the case of bans, because people remain free to ignore them.
Third, public officials do not always have the purest of motivations. They may be affected by the influence of well-organised private groups. If so, it is a major safeguard that people can go their own way.
Fourth, people may feel frustrated and angry if deprived of the ability to choose. When a government provides information or offers a warning, it simultaneously tells citizens that in the end they have the right to make their own decisions.
Fifth, freedom of choice can be, and often is, seen as an intrinsic good that a government should honour if it is to treat people with dignity. This is not a point about the subjective experience of frustration and anger. It is a matter of respect.
Cass Robert Sunstein is an American legal scholar who was the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. Sunstein co-authored Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness with economist Richard Thaler.
We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.
Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]
Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]
The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]
The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]
This week Experientia joins our colleagues and peers in Minneapolis at EPIC 2016, the premier international gathering on ethnography and design in industry. The theme for the conference this year is Pathmaking, emphasizing the power of ethnography to create transformative innovation, growth and strategic success for companies, industries and communities. On the second day of […]
Can behavioral change address local energy issues, raise people’s awareness energy consumption issues, and directly support non-profit organizations at the same time? With the Nice pilot of the CITYOPT project, we have seen strong suggestions that it can. It also suggests that the sense of belonging to a local community is a strong motivation for […]