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.


Enhanced by Zemanta

February 11, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Good point Chris.

    Another issue is that lots of the really useful functionality on most social media platforms is ‘hidden’.

    It’s a choice you have to make, but the platform doesn’t tell you how to make it, or even that you have a decision to make.

    I can’t count the times clients have been pleasantly surprised to find that they can have a vanity URL, run an RSS feed into a profile or improve the SEO functionality of the page really easily.

    I think I’ll buy myself a copy of Nudge as well now.

    Comment by Richard Stone - technical PR consultant | February 11, 2011 | Reply

    • That’s very true Richard – the great thing about social media is that it has the functionality, but not immediately accessible.

      Nudge is very readable as well – I think there are issues when you try to use the idea to make huge changes to people’s behaviour, but for areas like this it should work very well

      Comment by Chris Measures | February 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] understanding of human psychology can help marketers to change people’s behaviour. Whether it is nudging people to choose the ‘right’ option or appealing to the herd mind, there is a lot that marketers can learn from the social […]

    Pingback by Psychology and marketing – appealing to consumer needs « Revolutionary Measures | March 26, 2014 | Reply

  3. […] might argue that this is just a next step in techniques such as Nudge, where choices are ordered in a way to drive particular outcomes. These are supposedly for the […]

    Pingback by Big Brother is manipulating you? « Revolutionary Measures | July 30, 2014 | Reply

  4. […] argue that in the case of obesity, particularly among children, the damage is too great and that previous attempts to educate the public about the dangers of sugar have not worked. Critics see the tax as interference in their lives, even if what they are doing is harming them in […]

    Pingback by A spoonful of sugar « Revolutionary Measures | March 23, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: