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The Conversation: Nudges: four reasons to doubt popular technique to shape people’s behaviour


Magda Osman, Head of Research and Analysis at the Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge, writes about nudging techniques and why sometimes they don’t work.

“Throughout the pandemic, many governments have had to rely on people doing the right thing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus – ranging from social distancing to handwashing. Many enlisted the help of psychologists for advice on how to “nudge” the public to do what was deemed appropriate,” she writes. “But, despite the soft approach, many people aren’t keen on being nudged. During the pandemic, for example, scientists examined people’s attitudes to nudging in social and news media in the UK, and discovered that half of the sentiments expressed in social media posts were negative.”

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