Inside the Nudge Unit

Inside the Nudge Unit

How small changes can make a big difference

David Halpern

a new ‘behavioural equilibrium’ is established that is reinforced by other people. A well-documented example of this phenomenon comes from interventions to encourage higher voter turnouts in the USA. Such interventions, such as prompting people to think about how, and at what time, they will go to the polling station, have been found not only to boost turnout in a coming election, but also in subsequent elections even without further intervention. Todd Rogers, at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has likened the persistence of the voting effect to moving the person into a ‘behavioural rip-tide’. 9 The intervention not only changes the person’s behaviour directly, it also moves it into the flow of other influences. In this example, once you become an active voter in the US, you come on to the ‘radar’ of local party activists who are then likely to reach out to you in subsequent elections. But it is also that you start to think of yourself as a voter; that you now know where the polling station is and how to get there; and perhaps that you start to become slightly more interested in politics and elections.

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