Improve Participation with a Nudge


When asking people to participate in an event or program, you are providing them with a choice; to engage or not engage. Below are several types of nudges that may impact participation decisions. Each is an opportunity to create your own nudge experiment!

Default Rules – Some programs do not require active participation, just a simple approval (such as retirement savings taken out of your paycheck automatically). In these cases participation may benefit greatly from auto-enrollment, auto-renewal, or auto-approval. This will require less work for indifferent choosers, and fewer people will fail to make a choice altogether. When using default rules, it should always be easy to opt-out, or opt for a different choice.

Increase Ease – Remove barriers or reduce the perceived consequences of participation. This could come in the form of reduced cost, reduced risk, closer proximity, or shorter commitment.

Disclosure of Costs – Provide information on the monetary, social, or environmental costs of not participating. This may act as an incentive for some activities where costs are not obvious.

Use of Social Norms – Provide information about the intentions or prior participation of others. Try noting the frequently of participation by peers, or if prior participants recommend the experience.

Pre-commitment Strategies РAsking people when they plan to participate, or asking them to commit to a specific time/date can improve their chances of following through.

Give More Tomorrow – If you are asking individuals to sacrifice something (money, time, resources), even for their own benefit, they are more likely to agree to it in the future than today. This is also known as hyperbolic discounting; the cost is perceived to be lower as time passes.

Reminders – Prompting behavior with a reminder may seem obvious, but make sure that people can take immediate action at the time of the reminder. Consider asking people for their preferred method (text, email, mail) and preferred timing of reminders.

Posted in Examples of Nudges

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