8 Apr: The Nudge Revolution

Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s bestseller ‘Nudge’ was released on 8th April, 2008, catapulting a new method of behavioural economics into the public psyche – and the hands of policymakers, including David Cameron and Barack Obama.

The book challenged the notion of humans as rational decision-makers, and explained how companies, governments and individuals can ‘nudge’ people towards healthier habits, responsible financial decisions, or civic engagement if ‘decisions’ are framed in the right context – a technique they called “libertarian paternalism.”

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask just how effective nudge theory really is; explain how the project was inspired by a bowl of cashew nuts; and discover how Thomas Crapper was centuries ahead of his time… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Nudge theory: what 15 years of research tells us about its promises and politics’ (The Conversation, 2023): https://theconversation.com/nudge-theory-what-15-years-of-research-tells-us-about-its-promises-and-politics-210534

• ‘The nudge unit – has it worked so far?’ (The Guardian, 2013): https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/may/02/nudge-unit-has-it-worked

• ‘Nudge: the final edition’ (LSE, 2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEkfqQAp6wk