If a sugary drink had a “stop” sign on the shelf next to it, would it stop you from buying it? These small ‘nudges’, and the large impact they can have on human behaviour, has been revealed in more than 130 controlled trials carried out by the UK government’s behavioural impact team.
The team, also known as the Whitehall nudge unit, focus on designing policies that nudges us to act in a different way. Much of their work is based on ‘nudge theory’. Last week, one of the founding fathers of “nudge” theory, Richard Thaler, received the Nobel Prize in Economics, recognising his work in the field of behavioural economics. In the best-selling book, ‘Nudge’ Thaler explores the concept of a ‘nudge’ and how a small prod or prompt can encourage humans to make different decisions. For example, sales of sugary drinks dropped when “stop” signs were placed next to the drinks and reoffending by speeding drivers dropped after letters to drivers were reworded. Indeed, Theresa May announced at the Conservative Party conference this year that she will change the UK law, moving the country from an opt-in to an opt-out system, an example of how policy can change human behaviour.
Psychology students could consider the impact of cognitive biases on our decision making, and how these biases can lead to irrational decision making. From a neurological standpoint, they might also want to think about the areas of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, and how this area of the brain regulates, controls and manages our thoughts and behaviour.
Politics students could look at the impact that the government’s behavioural insights team has had on reshaping policies, in areas from health to tax and consumer affairs, and how these can prompt citizens to act differently. Philosophy students could consider whether such ‘nudging’ behaviour is an infringement of civil liberties.
- Personal statement: our tips in the Independent Here are 3 quick tips every hopeful should consider before... Read more >
- PAT mini mock paper & answers The Physics Aptitude Test or PAT is required by Oxford... Read more >
- Outside reading: the key to a good application When it comes to writing your personal statement and preparing... Read more >
- Physical, Mathematical & Chemical Sciences Reading Lists If you’re applying for Physics, Natural Sciences (P), Maths, Computer... Read more >
- What’s the Most Important Part of Your Application? An application to Oxford or Cambridge involves various different elements,... Read more >
- Is a “Religious Morality” rational? One of our Oxbridge graduate tutors, Emma, looks into the... Read more >
- What Results Do You Need In Your Exams? At the heart of every Oxbridge offer is an excellent... Read more >
- April’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Access and Financial Support at Oxbridge As two of the world’s top universities, both Oxford and... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- What’s so special about Oxford and Cambridge? Both Oxford and Cambridge have fearsome reputations. The Oxbridge system... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: a game of chess We asked one of our top Maths Oxbridge tutors for... Read more >
- Personal Statement Action Plan: Section 2 of 2 You’ve done your reading. You’ve made your brainstorm. You’ve possibly... Read more >
- Medical & Biological Sciences Reading Lists Medicine and the whole range of Biological Sciences are highly... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- Using stats: dos and don’ts When making an application, you must be careful about using... Read more >
- LNAT mini mock paper & answers The LNAT, required for those applying for Law at Oxford... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Personal Statement Action Plan: Section 1 of 2 The UCAS personal statement will be a key part of... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >
- PAT overview If you’re applying for Physics, Materials or a relevant joint... Read more >
- Stats report: our annual survey Every year, we survey hundreds of applicants who applied the... Read more >
- Information on choosing a course at Oxford or Cambridge “Perhaps it is because Oxbridge encourages more ‘traditional’ A Level... Read more >
- The Architecture of an Education: what are colleges all about? Explaining the difference between Oxford and Cambridge colleges and the... Read more >