nudge unit


It seems that all governments have one, these days.  This is a unit that devises interventions based on behavioural science to persuade citizens to do what is considered desirable, such as not consume sugary drinks, attend medical appointments, pay parking fines on time.  The nudges are  devised in relation to the problem. In the case of the medical appointments, a text message is sent to the patient pointing out that the hospital loses money if they don’t turn up.  In the case of the sugary drinks, an increase in price is found to be effective.

 The work of the nudge unit is based on nudge theory, a behavioural science theory that people can be influenced to change their behaviour by positive reinforcement or indirect suggestions, and that this can be more effective than enforcement or education. 

 The first such unit worked for the British government but, since 2015, we have our own Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA).