[OZTL_NET] SHARE: 'nudging' and changing behaviour.

Potts, Lynette LYNETTE.POTTS at det.nsw.edu.au
Tue Apr 9 09:58:35 AEST 2013

Hi Ruth,

I read the book (Nudge) a few years ago from the local library. It is a great read - all about making the required behaviours the default option, so that it requires effort to make a different choice. Good luck with your plans!

Lynette Potts
Teacher Librarian
Lane Cove West PS
From: oztl_net-bounces at lists.oztlnet.com [oztl_net-bounces at lists.oztlnet.com] On Behalf Of Buchanan, Ruth [Ruth.BUCHANAN1 at det.nsw.edu.au]
Sent: Monday, 8 April 2013 9:47 AM
To: oztl_net at lists.oztlnet.com
Subject: [OZTL_NET] SHARE: 'nudging' and changing behaviour.

Interesting article in the SMH on the weekend, about using 'nudges' to alter behaviour in positive ways.  I think it has ideas worth considering in terms of school libraries: how signs and messages are written/conveyed, how we interact with students, how we promote library resources/services/opportunities.  Here's an extract:

Deep inside the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet there's a team thinking up ways to ''nudge'' you to behave differently without you even knowing it.

The scheme is based on research by behavioural economists who have discovered people can be steered towards superior decisions for themselves - and society - by changing the way choices are presented. The hope is to influence behaviour with cleverly targeted nudges rather than more red tape.

In 2010 the British government set up a Behavioural Insights Team - dubbed the ''nudge unit'' - to investigate how nudges could be used in Britain. Its methods have now been imported to Macquarie Street. A senior member of Whitehall's nudge unit, Rory Gallagher, was hired by Barry O'Farrell's department at the end of 2012 to help find ways to nudge the citizens of NSW.

Behavioural economists - who blend the disciplines of economics and psychology - have found all sorts of biases that cause people to make choices that seem contrary to their best interests. The theory goes that these human traits - such as the desire to conform, shame and even vanity - can be used to nudge people to do things differently. The approach was made popular by University of Chicago professor, Richard Thaler, who co-wrote the 2008 book Nudge and is an adviser to the British nudge unit.

Economists such as Thaler have shown minor changes in the way choices are presented can have a major impact on behaviour. In one experiment a sign was placed on a lift saying: ''Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a good way to get some exercise. Why not try it?'' It resulted in a modest 1.8 percentage point reduction in lift use. But when the sign was changed to: ''More than 90 per cent of the time people in this building use the stairs instead of the elevator. Why not you?'' lift use was reduced by 7 percentage points. Another trial found that when high energy users were informed how their consumption compared with their neighbours' they were likely to use less. Both of these experiments underscore how people are social beings - they tend to compare themselves with others and are much more likely to do something if they know others are doing it too.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/what-a-difference-a-nudge-in-the-right-direction-can-make-20130406-2hdab.html

So I thought I'd share.  I shall be pondering how I can 'nudge' my library's users and my school's students and staff...



Ruth Buchanan
Teacher Librarian
Year Adviser, Year 8 (2013)
Year 11 Study Skills Co-ordinator
Knowledge Engineer
Colo High School

TL/teaching blog:

“I read because one life isn’t enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life;
I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I’m just beginning myself,
and I wouldn’t mind a map;
...I read because every journey begins at the library, and it’s time for me to start
~ Richard Peck ~
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