Revolutionary Measures

Delivering a social nudge

Cover of "Nudge: Improving Decisions Abou...

Cover via Amazon

I’ve written before about Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein’s riveting textbook on how organisations can make it easier for people (whether citizens or customers) to make the right choices to fit their needs. Essentially, it is a question of the choice architecture – how choices are presented to you – that influences behaviour. People tend to take the easier option (say when it comes to complicated things like picking a mortgage or a pension), so it is important that this default option is as beneficial as possible. Another example is how organising a self-service restaurant affects what food people choose – put the chips up front and more people shovel them onto their plate than if they come to salad first.

When it comes to social media often choice architectures seem stacked against the non-specialist. The issue is that so much personalisation is available within social media that the vast majority simply don’t bother changing things. That’s fine when it comes to background colour, but a real issue with security and privacy. Take Facebook. The default option often involves sharing personal details with a lot more freedom than you think (or necessarily want). Or the numerous apps that use Twitter to spam your friends with news that you scored XX in some lame game. As social media becomes mainstream its time that developers started adopting positive choice architectures to protect us humans from the perils of not choosing – the alternative will be more Daily Mail rants and the looming threat of increased regulation.


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February 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments