Nudging vs Thinking

A new report by Jonathan Rowson of the RSA probes the nature of the social brain and highlights the differences between nudging and thinking. “Transforming Behaviour Change: beyond nudge and neuromania” explores what neuroscience and philosophy can tell us about human social behaviour.

In the report Rowson identifies the significant problem that nudging interventions are not transformative. Rowson directs our attention to Aditya Chakrabortty;s comment in The Guardian that the application of nudging to public policy appears to have produced mostly “cute technocratic solutions to mainly minor problems.” Rowson further goes on to suggest that nudging tends to achieve what psychologist Paul Watzlawick calls “first-order change” rather than “second-order change”.

The report points to multiple items of evidence which suggest that we need to delve deeper into human nature if we wish to achieve design interventions which are socially beneficial. It closes with a short outline of a plan of action for a centre for the coordination and dissemination of research about social human nature.


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