Wednesday, January 22, 2014

my hunch is that this probably qualifies as an anti #nudge

Firstly a recap on behaviour change 101.

For a behaviour to be changed or otherwise shaped then there are two principle conditions that need to be taken into account.

Condition number one concerns the motivating factors for the person or persons from whom the change is required.

More often than not the motivator will take the form of some sort of reward.

Condition two requires the new or modified behaviour to be easy for said persons to adopt.

According to nudge theory, the ease in which a behaviour is adopted can be influenced by how the choices are presented.

For instance, arranging the choice architecture in a way that people can be gently nudged in a certain direction without taking away their 'freedom of choice'.

Looking at the situation on this platform in a western Sydney railway station, one is inclined (and there's not necessarily any expert intuition involved) to surmise that this qualifies as an anti-nudge.

From a behavioural economics stand point we should be mindful of that human cognitive bias that always seems to come and trip us up when designing reward mechanisms, namely loss aversion - and its ability to make subjects feel losses (or the prospect of losses) about twice as badly as how one would feel about the equivalent gains.

To that note one has to admit that the possibly dangerous behaviour - standing too close to the platform - does seem to have a certain level of reward attached, meaning that any mechanism designed to combat the behaviour would need a fairly substantial reward upgrade in order to motivate.

And finally, we are reminded of the story of 70s footballer and enfant terrible Stan Bowles, essentially yer English George Best.

Bowles was making a rare appearnce for the English national team and before the match was informed by boss, Sir Alf Ramsey that he would be pulled off at half-time.

To which Bowles replied 'That's great, all we get is an orange at QPR'.

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