What is Nudge Theory?
Chronic medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease have far reaching consequences on health at an individual and population level. The World Health Organisation documented that being overweight or obese is the fifth leading risk factor for causes of death1. For more information on how, diabetes mellitus in particular, impacts the global community, click here.
Subsequently, there have been many health initiatives, strategies and programs aiming to change people’s health behaviours, such as reducing smoking, changing diet and increasing physical activity, such as the UK Diabetes Prevention Program, discussed in more detail here.
A method that has recently come to prominence in the last decade to influence behaviour change is Nudge Theory. The concept was introduced by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their book: ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ in 20082.
Nudge Theory is based upon the idea that by shaping the environment, also known as the choice architecture, one can influence the likelihood that one option is chosen over another by individuals. A key factor of Nudge Theory is the ability for an individual to maintain freedom of choice and to feel in control of the decisions they make.
- ProQuest, & World Health Organization. (2009). Global health risks mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
- Thaler, R., & Sunstein, C. (2008). Nudge : Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven: Yale University Press.