Nudge theory, donating and you

First, I’m attempting to raise £1000 to walk to work. I’m doing this to help battle #foodpoverty on behalf of the Trussell Trust. Ergo, donate please.

Second, I’ve been contemplating the concept of nudge theory. What is it? At it’s simplest, it’s about encouraging better decision making. Like this…

An example of choice architecture in whether or not to recycle

And like this…

The most intimate piece of choice architecture every woman has been dreaming of

Or this simple story about men peeing. In public toilets, men tend to sprinkle when at urinals making the floor rather dirty. A picture of a fly was placed centrally in the urinal giving men something to aim at, thereby minimising the dirty floor effect.

And in a non-toilet piece of choice architecture, the upcoming reform to company pensions in the UK is an example of this. Saving into pensions is a useful activity for most people for when they age. Most people, though, don’t sign up to their company pension meaning they don’t do this long term saving. By creating an auto-enrolment policy, most people will end up saving for their pension by default. They can opt out if they choose to, and that’s the important bit. Nudge theory is about choice. You can either choose to make a better decision, or you choose not to.

In the recycling example above, the choice is to recycle as opposed to sending your rubbish to a landfill, fine I get that.

In the pensions example, it’s about doing the better behaviour by default, and choosing to opt out if that’s what you want to do. A bit less obvious a solution, and perhaps controversial.

So here’s my challenge to y’all. I want to provide a series of tweets that encourage people to donate to my walk to work using Nudge theory. I’ve been pondering it, and need some help.

Here’s one example:

The traditional approach “Your donation will help to raise money to battle #foodpoverty. Please donate what you can'”

The Nudge approach “Take two minutes to donate to #sukhwalkstowork, then take two minutes to tweet about it.” > Not a great example, but essentially helping people to see the choice to donate is an easy one.

Remember the confines of a tweet
– 140 characters including spaces, punctuation and link
– A link is automatically 20 characters long
– I will credit you with the tweet so you’ll need space for your Twitter name

Answers in the comments below please, or Twitter, or email. It’s all good.


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

4 thoughts on “Nudge theory, donating and you”

  1. Love the thought of nudges helping your cause and I think the idea making the prefered decision easy is important so you need the link in there. I also wonder if you can have an emotional nudge too, bringing the impact and consequence of a decision closer to the foreground.

    Not sure if these count as nudges but here are a couple that should fit in a tweet. – no credit required

    One for straight after lunchtime

    Did you have a decent lunch? Someone didn’t, and they won’t tomorrow either. Fill someone’s belly

    One for on the commute home

    Feeling a little peckish? Someone feels like that all the time. Fill someone’s belly

    1. Kev, thanks for the comment, it’s much appreciated. Yes, emotional nudges work just as well. I like the kind you’ve suggested, and have tried these so far.

      Part of me wonders how much they raise awareness, and which ones actually prompt people to donate.

      1. And is awareness raising important or just the behaviour change? The fly in the urinal probably didn’t raise awareness too much ( or did it)

        1. It’s a good point. Ultimately the behaviour change is all about our attitudes to food poverty. For the purpose of what I’m doing I guess it’s about awareness raising.

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