Have you ever been ‘elbow-ed’ by one of your friends? Maybe it was to push you to answer a teacher’s question or to introduce yourself to a new person. That in itself is a form of nudge!
These days, nudges come in different forms – even digitally! Given the digital age we live in today, there has been a rise in the implementation of digital behavioural interventions.
Have you ever forgotten a doctor’s appointment that you scheduled months ago but were suddenly reminded by a text reminder notification on your phone? Appointment reminders have been used in hospitals frequently to curb no-show rate. This is an example of a nudge to increase the propensity of showing up for medical appointments. The behavioural cue used here is ‘Persuasion’.
SMS text reminders have been demonstrated to be very effective in changing behaviours such as ‘no-shows’ and have been found to be very cost-effective, saving hospitals and medical centres millions of dollars.
Appointments are but just one way of reminder. Think of exercise trackers or even the role of the media!
But one might ask how this leads to behaviour change – well, as one receives the reminder text on their phone, there are various psychological aspects of persuasion in play here. Tailored appointment reminders help one to feel more in control of their desired behaviour.
Additionally, this act of persuasion influences an individual’s decision-making, which then motivates them to act desirably, therefore leading to behaviour change (i.e. showing up for the scheduled appointment).
Yet, with all the pros, there are also the cons. Increasingly with more notifications from all sorts of apps, such updates may not become an irritant instead of useful. In fact, we sometimes “clear” these notifications without wondering that they are, so perhaps it might also be useful to slow down and dispensable notifications or updates that you do not need.
Just another example of how nudges can be low resource-intensive and time-efficient. Can you think of other digital interventions around you that have helped you change your behaviour?