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David Halpern, Chief executive, Behavioural Insights Team; Matthew Taylor, RSA Chief Executive

How much do you really know about the oft-quoted 'nudge theory'? Is it possible to nudge yourself?

'The beauty of nudges is that when they are well chosen, they make people's lives better while maintaining freedom of choice.' Cass Sunstein

Behavioural scientist Dr David Halpern leads Number 10’s renowned ‘Nudge Unit’, the world’s first government institution that uses behavioural economics to influence our decision-making. Tiny 'nudges' instigated by the unit have led to huge improvements in crime reduction, employment, healthcare, pensions, employment, energy conservation and economic growth.

For example, adding a simple line to a tax reminder generated millions in extra revenue, and prompting people to become organ donors while paying for their car tax added an extra 100,000 donors to the register in a single year. 

For some this is distasteful paternalism, whilst for others it is a 'softly softly' approach that should be replaced by outright bans and mandates. Halpern visits the RSA to explain the benefits and to give tips on how to apply behavioural economics to one's own life.

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