Nudgespotting: Everyday Life in NYC


It’s impossible to live in New York City without experiencing the push and pull of influence. After all, one of NYC’s most famous destinations plants you in the center of an arena of advertisements. While some of these influences are merely annoyances or eyesores, others are more impactful. In this edition of Nudgespotting, I share four behavioral science insights in action from a typical day in the Big Apple.

Can We Nudge Parents to Read to Their Kids?


Many of us have fond memories of our parents reading to us when we were young. In the moment, these reading sessions were an opportunity for us to bond with our moms and dads (and for them to get us to sleep!). But in an increasingly busy world, many parents have a hard time regularly engaging with their kids. This is most true for low-income parents, with evidence suggesting that wealthier parents spend more time engaging with their children, particularly when it comes to educational activities (Lareau 2003; Guryan, Hurst, and Kearney 2008; Kalil, Ryan, and Corey 2012). Why is this?

Why Don’t People Follow Through On Their Intent to Vaccinate?

By: Jaclyn Lefkowitz and Jess Leifer (ideas42)

Note: This post first appeared on the ideas42 blog

If you learned there was an easy, low-cost, and effective way to prevent sickness, would you be interested in it? Just one simple method for fewer sick days, fewer trips to the doctor, and better health – the flu shot. Yet less than 1 in 2 Americans get it every year, a rate that has been relatively stable since 2010. For a vaccine that is affordable and widely available, why are the rates so low? While some among us may explicitly choose not to get a vaccine, we suspect there’s more to the story.

Tales of choice architecture: The good (-intentioned), the bad, and the ugly


As a practitioner of behavioral science, I get pretty passionate – even emotional – about everyday choice architecture. In fact, more than once a week I encounter something that prompts me to say to my husband, “argh, this is terrible choice architecture,” to which he now invariably rolls his eyes. Which is why today I’m turning to you, clearly a far more appreciative audience, to share three tales of my recent run-ins with choice architecture: the Good (-intentioned), the Bad, and the Ugly.

Are Nudges Good? Prove It!


If you’re reading this, you probably like nudges. You probably think they are a terrific way to change behavior in ways that are socially beneficial. Think of the classic social information nudges used to encourage environmental conservation, like Opower’s household mailers (Home Energy Reports, or HERs, pictured below) showing homeowners how their electricity usage stacks up against their neighbors’. Evidence suggests that they are cheap, easy to understand, and reduce energy use (see Allcott, 2011). What’s not to like?

A Case of Decision-Making Under Uncertainty

(Or, how my husband and I spent our vacation developing decision aids)

By Linnea Gandhi (TGG Group)


At 4:30 AM on Sunday, January 24th, my husband and I faced one of the toughest decisions of our married lives:

Should we call United Airlines now and confirm one spot on the upgrade list, or take our chances later trying to persuading the airport representative to get us two spots, risking getting zero in the process?

Nudgespotting: An Investigation of Traffic Nudges

Nudgespotting: An Investigation of Traffic Nudges

By DJ Neri (ideas42)

Welcome back to Nudgespotting! Today we’ll take a look at several attempts to make you a better driver and discover how creating a “simple” nudge can be a not-so-simple task. 


Recently, on a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I was running late for a meeting. My taxi driver came to an abrupt halt at a red light and my eyes anxiously darted to the clock on my phone: how long would I be forced to wait? As if my mind had been read, I looked up to see that next to the red light was a timer displaying the seconds remaining until the light would turn green. I was immediately pleased to have my uncertainty alleviated, but later on I started wondering: are these timers nudging us to become better drivers? Or are they causing us to misbehave? Let’s investigate.