CITINGS

Nudge

Posted on December 3, 2010 | Author: Richard Thaler | View 438 | Comment : 1

As we shall see, small and apparently insignificant details can have major impacts on people's behaviour.

 

A good rule of thumb is to assume that 'everything matters'.

 

In many cases, the power of these small details comes from focusing the attention of users in a particular direction.

 

A wonderful example of this principle comes from, of all places, the men's rooms at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

 

There the authorities have etched the image of a black housefly into each urinal.

 

It seems that men usually do not pay much attention to where they aim, which can create a bit of a mess, but if they see a target, attention and therefore accuracy are much increased.

 

According to the man who came up with the idea, it works wonders.

 

"It improves the aim," says Aad Kieboom. "If a man sees a fly, he aims at it.

 

"Kieboom, an economist, directs Schiphol's building expansion."

 

His staff conducted fly-in-urinal trials and found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%.

 

The insight that 'everything matters' can be both paralysing and empowering.

 

Good architects realise that although they can't build the perfect building, they can make some design choices that will have beneficial effects.

 

Open stairwells, for example, may produce more workplace interaction and more walking, and both of these are probably desirable...

 

A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.

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