House of Lords highlights limitations of ‘nudge’

A new report from the House of Lords argues that ‘nudging’ people to change their behaviour will have limited impact in isolation.

The report, published by the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, summarises available evidence on behaviour change. The Committee focuses particularly on the concept of ‘nudging’ because of the government’s preference for this type of non-regulatory intervention. However, the report finds “that non-regulatory measures used in isolation, including ‘nudges’, are less likely to be effective. Effective policies often use a range of interventions.”

These findings echo the conclusions arrived at in a House of Lords round table held by Think Global last year. In a briefing entitled Nudge, Think or Shove? we report participants’ conclusions that:

  • ‘Nudge’ is effective for specific, limited shifts in behaviour such as recycling.
  • ‘Think’ is effective at building support and legitimacy for the big, transformational changes that we need in society, such as decarbonising the economy. ‘Think’ can be particularly powerful in building people’s ability and motivation to participate in and drive those transformational changes.
  • ‘Shove’ often helps to create the conditions under which ‘nudge’ is most effective.

Think Global used the findings from this round table to feed into the House of Lords inquiry. Our submission can be found here.

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