Inside the Nudge Unit

Inside the Nudge Unit

How small changes can make a big difference

David Halpern

there’s a basic behavioural phenomena that applies to both people and organisations around ‘commitment’: people and organisations are much more likely to do something if they were previously engaged in even a small commitment or helped build it themselves (the IKEA effect). Cialdini gives a neat example, in his early popularisation of the psychology of influence, of a restaurant that was struggling with large numbers of customers failing to turn up for bookings. Staff taking phone bookings were instructed to make a seemingly tiny change: to pause after asking customers ‘Would you let us know if you can’t make it?’ The pause –imagine it in your own head –leads to customers to fill it with a response, such as ‘sure’, or just ‘uh-huh’. And the effect? The number of customers failing to turn up without calling more than halved.

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