Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quote of the day - government edition

By Donald Sensing

"That’s the lesson we’re learning — make it easy for people. Sounds obvious, but often that isn’t what we do in government."

So saith David Halpern, who heads this unit of the British government:

Chalk up another success to the Behavioural Insights Team. Since 2009, this handful of academics has been working, largely without fanfare, to subtly alter the ways we act, look after ourselves and obey the law. 
Known colloquially as The Nudge Unit, the team that was once viewed as a “nutty indulgence” at the heart of David Cameron’s government recently had its tenure renewed, after an 18-month probationary period. 
As a consequence, it will now be at the centre of initiatives on everything from job seeking to anti-smoking. ...
At the unit’s heart is a simple premise. Instead of using clunky legislation, or the blunderbuss of regulations, to threaten people into action, government policy can better be executed by employing small, clever prompts. Combining economics with psychology, these “nudges” not only foment a more responsible population, but also make us as individuals feel happier and more informed about the choices we make. In short: you steer people towards better decisions by presenting choices in different ways.
You can bet advertisers have been doing this for years.

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