Behavioral Influences

You can download a copy of the following material by clicking here: The Nudge Project. Definition: “A nudge is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.” (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008, p. 6). Assignment: A major component of this course involves reading Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge, and completing the nudge project. This project involves (1) identifying an organizational problem/issue; (2) designing an effective nudging strategy to address the problem/issue; and (3) writing an essay that describes the problem and nudge strategy you have developed. First, you need to identify a problem. The problem doesn’t have to be monumental. Think about problems at your work, church, softball team, etc. Select a problem that directly impacts you and/or those around you. The more familiar you are with the problem, the better! You need to complete this step of the project no later than Week #3 of the course. I will ask you to submit a brief abstract/summary of your project in Week #3. Second, you will design an effective nudge strategy. For this part of the project, it will be helpful to read A Practioner’s Guide to Nudging, by Mazar, Zhao, and Soman. They suggest a four-step process for developing a nudging strategy. Begin the nudging process by auditing “the decision-making process of the end user.” That is, you should identify the critical factors and actions that ultimately lead to the problem. These factors (bottlenecks) are possible areas where a nudging strategy might pay off. It is a good idea to develop a “decision map” like Figure 2 on page 16 of A Practioner’s Guide. Also, you may want to work through the worksheet in Appendix 2 of A Practioner’s Guide. This will help you identify the factors (bottlenecks) that ultimately lead to the problem. The third step in the process is to select the nudge(s). Mazar, Zhao, and Soman suggest that you think through the following four questions: Is the individual aware of what they need to do but are unable to accomplish it, or does a desired behavior/action need to be activated? Are they motivated enough to impose a nudge on themselves? Is the action more likely to be taken with increased cognition, or are individuals currently hampered by cognitive overload? Is the desired action not being accomplished because of a competing action, or due to inertia? Consequently, should we aim to discourage the competing action or encourage the target action? In this stage of the process, you want to give careful thought to the behavioral influences and heuristics that may be contributing to the problem. In step four of the process, you want to identify the constraints that may hinder the nudge from being implemented. In the final step, if several nudges have been identified, you want to prioritize. Remember, a nudge must be “cheap and easy.” As such, you want to consider the operational costs associated with implementation of the nudge. The nudge project will culminate with an essay that is due the last week of class. This essay will include (1) a complete description and analysis of the problem you trying to address; (2) a nudge strategy; and (3) a thorough description of how you developed the nudge strategy. This project will be submitted and scanned through Turnitin.

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