Nudges, FTW

Interesting stuff here. The basic idea behind a “Nudge”: build a set of automatic but reversible actions into a system to encourage good behavior. Here’s Cass Sunstein, author of Nudge, in an interview with New Scientist:

How do you design a nudge?
It’s a problem-centered approach, rather than a theory-centered approach. So if we had a problem of excess complexity making it hard for people to make informed choices, the solution would be to simplify. If people aren’t enrolled in a program because it’s a headache to sign up, automatic enrollment seems like a good idea.

Is nudging generally preferable to strategies like taxes and prohibition?
The advantage of a nudge is that it’s more respectful of freedom of choice. It always belongs on the table, but if you have a situation where, say, polluters are causing health problems, some regulatory response is justified—a criminal sentence or a civil fine.

See what I’m talking about.