How do you feel when you get the push to eat healthier?

You may not know it, but companies, policymakers and governments have used it press for years to encourage the public to make different choices. Small changes in our environment canurges us” to adopt different behaviors without limiting the options available to us.

For example, if low-calorie options are printed in bold on a menu or display calorie information, this could impact our eating habits. But does the public support this? And how, if at all, do subtleties in the design of “nudge” interventions affect support?

The aim of research led by the universities of Göttingen and Bonn was to examine public support for economic scenarios with different design variants, each aimed at promoting healthy and/or sustainable dietary choices.

The researchers showed that there are two promising ways to improve public support for nudge strategies: reducing the effort people have to expend to avoid the persuasion option they would normally pursue; and improve the transparency of the nudge. The results were published in BMC public health.

Default nudge options

People can be encouraged to make a particular choice by making it the default option. For example, instead of automatically offering butter in a restaurant by default, restaurants could only offer butter upon order.

This type of push, known as “Standard push“can be effective, but may be unpopular compared to other nudge strategies. To analyze consumer response, researchers conducted an online survey among a sample (N=451) of German adults who were presented with five nudge scenarios and asked to rate their support for each.

Participants in each scenario were also asked to indicate what their typical behavior would be (e.g., would you normally eat butter in a restaurant?), the extent to which they perceived the nudge as an intrusion on their freedom of choice, and how effective they believed it was was the impetus. push?. Participants then answered the same questions for a variation of each nudge scenario in which one aspect of the design was changed. This allowed researchers to determine how these design variations affected public support.

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Low Res Wahnschaft nudge Figure 1 ENG final jpg
The researchers conducted an online survey to analyze support for five different nudge scenarios.
One aspect of the design was then changed so that researchers could determine how these design variations affected public support.

The researchers found that some designs were more promising than others for improving public support. For example, it can reduce the effort required to opt out of push options, such as presenting vegetarian dishes on the first few pages of a menu, followed by meat dishes, rather than just offering a vegetarian menu at the table during a menu with meat options available. If desired: further support. The transparency of the nudge itself is also increased by, for example, asking participants whether they prefer an online shopping cart.climate friendly‘ pre-installed rather than simply offering it out of the box, increased support. In terms of predicting the level of support, the perception that nudges interfered with freedom of choice was the most important factor for non-acceptance, while the perception of effectiveness was the most important factor for acceptance.

Understanding public support – and its drivers – is important for designing politically viable, ethical and effective stimulus.“says first author Simone Wahnschafft from the Sustainable Food Systems Research Group at the University of Göttingen. “We were surprised that our participants’ personal circumstances and whether their own behavior would be influenced by the nudge had little influence on their support. We found that perceptions of maintaining choice and efficiency were key to public support“. This study opens avenues for future research into how “optimal points” for predetermined impulses that are both effective and have broad support.

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