Nudges vs. Shoves

Damn this is a good article! Check this out. What you will see is the Nuffield Ladder. It provides a graphic illustration, literally, of the eight levels of intervention that Behavioral Scientists and governing bodies can put in place to encourage people to make healthy choices. All of this, of course, grows out of Thaler and Sunstein’s seminal book, Nudge, which is the Behavioral Economics guidebook on how we can become “choice architects,” guiding people to make the right decisions in life. Important stuff.

At the lowest level of intervention, we can do nothing at all. Duh! We just sit back and monitor the situation and see what happens. At the highest level of intervention, we can pass regulations and eliminate choice. Want to make sure that kids stop vaping in 2020? Take the damn Juuls off the market!!! And make advertising of vaping products illegal. You will, of course, still have the black market, but what the heck.

In between doing nothing and eliminating choice, you can do things like guide through incentives, guide through disincentives, guide through social pressure, etc.  

Peter Ubel, the physician author of this article, goes on to maintain that even the eight levels of the Nuffield Ladder do not go far enough in explaining the intervention options open to the choice architect. SO. He goes on to explode each of these levels, showing meaningful and important variations in each.

Bottom Line. So, who cares about any of this stuff anyway? First Answer:  Anybody looking for real meaning in the application of Behavioral Economics to the real world,  rather than just to academic experiments. Second Answer:  Anybody empowered to make/assist in “Public Health” decision making. 

Think about it!

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