Small nudges - big effects
From plate sizes at a buffet to a thermostat’s default setting: research in behavioral sciences repeatedly demonstrates the big impact of a decisions’ context on our decision-making and behavior (see theory). If plates at a buffet are smaller, less is being eaten and less food is being thrown away (despite giving people the liberty to refill their plate as often as they want). When the default setting for a thermostat is lower, people heat the room less (see products for more examples).
Small contextual changes can have big effects, without limiting personal freedom and without using financial incentives. With this approach, sustainable behavior can be promoted quickly and inexpensively and organizations can be shaped in a more efficient way.
Consultancies worldwide are implementing behavioral science interventions in order to promote sustainable behavior (see applications). In the US and in Great Britain (Behavioral Insights Team), those institutions are already part of the government.
decisions-context has close ties with European pioneers such as the British governmental agency “Behavioral Insights”, the “Design Council” and the consultancy “Decision Technology”. This allows for an international exchange of our experiences.
The main focus of our approach is empirical research. Due to the complexity of human behavior, one can speculate a lot about which method is best to promote saving electricity in Switzerland, or to promote recycling in Germany, for example. Our empirical approach allows us to compare different methods and to determine the best one. Thanks to our extensive experience with experimental research and statistical analysis we have excellent tools at hand to answer such questions empirically (see what makes us different).
Do context-free decisions exist?
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as context-free decision making. There is no default value to a thermostat which would not influence the way we heat our room. There is no neutral plate size which does not influence the amount of food we take from a buffet.
Especially when carrying social responsibility, it is important to be aware of contextual influences. Thus, it is possible to shape these contexts in a way that they align with societal goals and norms (e.g. use less energy or throw away less food), importantly without limiting individuals’ freedom.