A gen­tle nudge

Katie Wright dis­cov­ers how to make pos­i­tive changes

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

NUDGE has be­come quite the buzz­word in re­cent years, with nudge the­ory em­ployed by govern­ments around the world to en­cour­age cit­i­zens to do things like pay their taxes on time, or sign up to a pen­sion scheme.

“Nudg­ing is a mat­ter of fig­ur­ing out how we help peo­ple reach their long-term goals, but do­ing so by mak­ing the right choice an easy one,” says Sille Krukow, a be­havioural de­sign ex­pert who is cur­rently work­ing with Heineken on a project that aims to use nudge tech­niques to re­duce drink driv­ing.

But did you know you can also use nudge prin­ci­ples on your­self?

Whether you’re try­ing to lose weight, stay within your bud­get or ex­er­cise more, a few small changes could work won­ders. Get­ting started with be­havioural de­sign the­ory in everyday life is eas­ier than you might think. Here, Sille of­fers seven ways to give your­self a nudge in the right di­rec­tion...

1. Avoid go­ing over bud­get by stick­ing to a check­list when you go shop­ping

“A lit­tle thing like hav­ing a list when you go shop­ping ac­tu­ally helps you stay within your bud­get, be­cause su­per­mar­ket spa­ces have very good ‘choice ar­chi­tec­ture’ that pro­motes con­sump­tion. They know ex­actly where to place the goods and how to place them next to other prod­ucts to make them more tempt­ing.”

2. Eat be­fore you shop so you don’t buy un­healthy foods

“Not be­ing hun­gry when you go out shop­ping is good, be­cause if you are hun­gry, you’re more in­clined to want sugar and fat, which means you buy things like candy.”

3. Set up re­minders on your bank ac­count so you don’t over­spend

“If you can, use a ser­vice where you get a re­minder on your phone ev­ery time your bank bal­ance has reached a cer­tain level. Those kinds of re­minders are very im­por­tant when it comes to au­to­matic be­hav­iour.”

4. Set tar­gets for ex­er­cise

“At the be­gin­ning of the week, write down your ex­er­cise aims for the week in a note­book, then at the end of the week, re­port back in that same note­book. Re­search shows this gen­er­ally in­creases your per­for­mance by 28%.”

5. Even bet­ter, re­port back to a friend

“If you want to make sure you ex­er­cise, you have to cre­ate a sys­tem for your­self. The most ef­fi­cient way of do­ing that is to have a friend that you re­port back to. If you tell some­one, that has a gen­eral ten­dency to in­crease your per­for­mance by 79%.”

6. Re­duce plate size to pre­vent overeat­ing

“If you want to lose weight or have health­ier eat­ing habits, change your plate size from 27cm to 24cm. That’s go­ing to re­duce the amount of food you eat and waste by around 20%, be­cause you’re not able to see the dif­fer­ence, but you will feel just as full.”

7. Nudge your col­leagues into clean­ing up af­ter them­selves

“One work­place had a big prob­lem with peo­ple leav­ing dirty dishes in the kitchen. When we put up a pic­ture of eyes just above the work sur­face, we found the plates moved to the other end of the room and some of them into the dish­washer. It wasn’t 100% suc­cess­ful, but it had a huge in­flu­ence.

“When we told the em­ploy­ees what we had been do­ing, no-one had no­ticed the eyes, but nev­er­the­less they were in­flu­enced by them — it in­flu­ences our au­to­matic be­hav­iour when we think some­one is look­ing.”

RE­TAIL THER­APY: Change your su­per­mar­ket be­hav­iour by mak­ing a shop­ping list.

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