If you’ve ever negotiated with a toddler (and I use the word ‘negotiated’ very loosely), you’ll know something about nudge theory.
The way you present options to a toddler can have a huge impact on the response you get. Simply restricting an open-ended choice to a couple of clearly defined options can mean the difference between a happy little camper and a limb-flailing, head-banging demon-child. Trust me on this.
In a sense, then, we’re all toddlers, because humans in general are susceptible to the effects of ‘nudging’.
As Rory Sutherland explains in this excellent article, we rely on “cognitive short-cuts while facing an influx of data presented to us in everyday situations”. Nudging is the process of prompting certain behaviours by encouraging these short-cuts.
All of which is a (somewhat roundabout) way of introducing a recent study conducted at The Alfred – one of Australia’s leading hospitals.
This study involved a simple experiment in which sugar-sweetened drinks were removed from display at the hospital’s café, to see if this would nudge people towards healthier decisions. Customers could still buy these drinks, but only by going out of their way to do so.
Through this experiment, the population health team at The Alfred showed that retail sales remained steady but people bought fewer sugar-sweetened drinks (i.e. they made healthier choices). A win-win by any measure.
We’re proud to have worked with The Alfred to develop the report on this study, A Green Light for Healthy Consumption, which was released yesterday. The report looks great (even if we do say so ourselves), and it’s generating plenty of interest from other organisations that are keen to promote the health of their consumers.
You can take a look at the report here.