Blog Lisette Kruizinga – de Vries – Methodologist

On November 14, I went to a RuG CIC seminar on nudging. When I arrived, the path to the location was marked by red/white tape so that I would not take the shortest route. Also, I was accompanied by two students who tricked me by suddenly looking up, and I followed their gaze. Although exaggerated, I was creatively introduced into the topic of nudging.

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The seminar was kicked off by Professor Denise de Ridder who gave an academic introduction into the topic of nudging. Almost everyone has probably heard of the buzz word ‘nudge’, the title of the famous book by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. But what does nudging actually mean? It is using subtle cues in a person’s environment that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way. In this way, nudging helps people make better decisions without deliberate thinking, such as taking the stairs or not throwing your cigarettes on the floor:


No alt text provided for this imageBert Pol from Tabula Rasa showed some applications of nudging in practice. Nudging is also more often used in advertising. For example, if there is a person in the ad, this person often looks at the brand logo or product that is being advertised so that the viewer follows the person’s gaze. In the picture below, two ads are shown. Through eye-tracking we can tell that in the first ad people look more often at the product itself than in the ad below it.

After the break, where we were nudged to take fruit instead of muffins, we heard two talks from practice. Esther Zijtregtop discussed some innovations at KLM and Marlies Wilms Floet discussed how to use nudges to increase your online conversion. Sometimes, only changing a default option for delivery in an online webshop, for example, leads people to choose this option more often.


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So, now, did you start reading this blog because you were curious what the Zeigarnik effect is? I nudged you to make the decision to read this blog. The Zeigarnik effect is the effect that unfinished tasks will be better remembered than finished tasks and that they will cause action. Examples are the sign in WhatsApp or your e-mail that you have a new message. As you might have gathered, nudging might be used in a lot more cases than you would initially expect.