Nudge theory (or Nudge) is a concept in behavioral science, political theory and economics which argues that positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to try to achieve non-forced compliance can influence the motives, incentives and decision making of groups and individuals alike, at least as effectively – if not more effectively - than direct instruction, legislation, or enforcement.
Nudge theory in society
Nudge Theory has also found its way into the business management and corporate culture. Health- Safety and Environment (HSE) and Human Resources are two areas that have found extensive potential to apply the theory to internal safety or management culture. Regarding its application to HSE, one of the primary goals of nudge is to achieve a "zero accident culture".
“Nudge,” as it is often referred, is usually credited to Richard Thaler a prominent professor of Behavioural Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Thaler's role in developing the “Nudge Theory” is usually discussed in parallel with Daniel Kahneman, an American psychologist.
Nudge Theory rose to global prominence in 2008 with the release of the book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Thaler and legal scholar Cass R. Sunstein. The volume not only brought the discourse on Nudge theory to the wider public, but secured a significant following among contemporary US and UK political personalities as well as the private sector involved with public health and related fields.
Most recently, the political machinery of both President Barack Obama in the United States and Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK have sought to employ Nudge Theory to advance their respective domestic policy goals. In the UK there is a Behavioural Insights Team in the UK government.
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