Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

Projects

Nudging approaches and their effectiveness: a field experiment

Nudges are a way of bringing about behavioural change. Photo: 06photo/shutterstock.com

Nudges are a way of bringing about behavioural change. A nudge refers to an intervention technique that makes the desired course of action seem the simplest and most obvious. Nudges allow desired actions to be carried out without great cognitive effort and without the need to search for information. The nudging approach gained traction through the publication by Thaler and Sustein (2008) and is now researched and applied not only in economics, sociology, and psychology – but also in social marketing.

Nudges
Nudges are a way of making environmentally friendly action more attractive and easier to carry out. Photo: Kondor83/shutterstock.com

In brief

  • Nudges are a promising way of making environmentally friendly action more attractive and easier to carry out
  • The project evaluates various nudges in terms of their efficacy in promoting environmentally friendly purchasing decisions
  • The insights gained enable recommendations to be made on the use of nudges to promote environmentally friendly practices
     
nudges biodiversity
The goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of various nudges that are aimed at encouraging buying environmentally friendly products. Photo: Creative Commons

Goal and method

The goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of various nudges that are aimed at encouraging buying decisions for environmentally friendly products. The project will review the scientific basis for nudging approaches and then design a field experiment. The experiment will be carried out in Spring 2016 in selected branches of a major retailer in German-speaking Switzerland which is implementing various nudges. The project involves analysing sales figures and conducting interviews with customers. Factors conducive to potential interventions will be identified through quantitative interviews and further, in-depth qualitative interviews will reconstruct the process and implementation of individual purchasing decisions.
 
The project is part of the research project “Communication and behaviour in the environmental sector” of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The project investigates how, among the population of Switzerland, environmentally relevant behavioural changes can be achieved through communicative measures.  


Project duration: 2015-2016

CDE is carrying out this project in collaboration with the Institute of Sociology, University of Bern, and the Professorship for Sociology, ETH Zurich.