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Nudging makes decisions easier

A fundamental part of the MeBeSafe project is ‘nudging’. The concept was brought to prominence by Nobel Prize Winner Richard Thaler and his colleague Cass Sunstein in their book “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, first published in 2008.

The assumptions behind nudging are that by “knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice”. Rather than penalising people if they do not act in certain way, nudging about making it easier for people to make a certain decision.

Three principles should guide the use of nudges:

1.All nudging should be transparent and never misleading
2.It should be as easy as possible to opt out of the nudge, preferably with as little as one mouse click.
3.There should be good reason to believe that the behaviour being encouraged will improve the welfare of those being nudged.

Nudging has been employed in different areas. The MeBeSafe project will add further knowledge on if and how nudging can be used as a way to influence road user behaviour.

Professor MariAnne Karlsson
Chalmers University of Technology