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Nudge, nudge, think, think


  • Behaviour change
  • Social brain

Having started the day in Kettering talking to the trustees of Youth Music, I have just come back from the advisory board of an ESRC funded project called ‘Researching Civic Behaviour’.

The main part of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of a brilliant paper written by Gerry Stoker, Peter John and Graham Smith entitled ‘Nudge, nudge, think, think: Two strategies for changing civic behaviour’.

In the paper the authors compare deliberation (which for the purposes of a clever title they call 'think') and nudging as ways of influencing behaviour and come up with the following dimensions:

View of preferences





View of subjects


Cognitive misers, users of shortcuts, prone to flawed sometimes befuddled thinking


Reasonable, knowledge hungry and capable of collective reflection

Costs to the individual


Low but repeated


High but only intermittently

Unit of analysis





Change process


Cost-benefit led shift in choice environment


Value led outline of new shared policy platform

Civic conception


Increasing the attractiveness of positive-sum action


Addressing the general interest

Role of the state


Customise messages, expert and teacher


Create new institutional spaces to support citizen-led investigation, respond to citizens

It’s fascinating stuff and regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised that I wondered whether there was a cultural theory perspective here:

• Hierarchy – rules

• Individualism – nudging

• Egalitarianism – deliberation

There’s a lot more to discuss but I’ll see if anyone out there is interested first.

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