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How to nudge: update

A mind map of the BIT Update Report, by James Wallman

A mind map of the BIT Update Report, by James Wallman

In July 2015, the Behavioural Insights Team, arguably the world's leading organisation for applying behavioural economics — or who in Daniel Kahneman's words applying social psychology — released a report containing updates from their work from 2013-2015. 

Here are our 6 key take-outs

  1. You are Special! 
    1. Make the message relevant
    2. Make the person feel special, 
    3. Use phrases like "You have been chosen"
    4. Use PLUs: make people realise it's people like them who have made the change
      1. (PLU = People Like Us; it's the sort of people who go to the same sort of places, do the same things you do. Often, they're just your friends.)
  2. Storming Norman! 
    1. Social norms work (page 11)
  3. A-choo!
    1. Social contagion, aka network nudges, work. 
    2. the key is to reach out and remind someone about the impact they've had
    3. this was shown to take the likelihood of someone donating from 5-38%
      1. (That's more than a 700% increase, in case you like fancy numbers)
  4. Reciprocity rocks!
    1. If you do something for someone they are far more likely to follow up (p37).
      1. (This is called "inducing reciprocity".)
      2. It can be as simple as booking someone an appointment and sending them a text message to tell them you've done this.
      3. Use phrases like: "I've done this for you… (implication that the person will respond.)
    2. The psychologist Adam Grant will like this: his book Give and Take is all about this truth.
  5. Get a plan, man!
    1. Planning, known in the business as "implementation intentions", is essential.
    2. If people write down an implementation intention, they are more than twice as likely to do something.
    3. In a test, getting people to write an implementation intention pushed the turn-up rate from 10.5%—26.8%.
  6. Switch, Rich!
    1. It is much easier to substitute a new behaviour for an old one, than simply eliminate an old one (p12).
    2. Past behaviour strongly influences future behaviour (p36).

Click here to view The Behavioural Insights Team Update report 2013-2015

There's lots more on this in all sorts of books and papers. Good places to start are: 

  • Robert Cialdini, Persuasion
  • Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini, Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion
  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow


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