What is Nudge Theory?
Nudge Theory is a behavioural economics concept, which proposes that by creating access to choices through positive reinforcement and guidance, individuals or groups are more likely to make educated decisions without feeling forced to do the right thing. Comparatively, traditional methods include direct instruction, legislation or enforcement of change, often with the threat of punishment.
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s 2008 book titled, ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, which Thaler has recently received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for tells, “A nudge is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not”.
Nudge Theory has been widely embraced in political, economic and health sectors globally with various ‘Nudge Units’ in place, including an active ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ by the NSW Government. Notably, the theory has been adopted by World Banks and the UN. The observation is that ‘nudging’ is just as effective, if not more effective than enforcing change.
Applying Nudge Theory to Impact Films
The Moonshine team was initially engaged to design and create videos in response to an outbreak of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in the remote community of Maningrida in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory in 2015. RHD is 100% preventable yet there are approximately 470,000 new cases of Rheumatic Fever and over 230,000 deaths due to the disease each year. Australia has the highest rate of the disease, which mostly effects young Indigenous adults aged from 5 – 14. The disease, which can start off as a common cough or skin sore mostly goes undetected and is widely unknown, particularly in remote communities where the disease is most prevalent.
We established the project, Take Heart in 2015 to help the quest to rid Australasia of the disease. The project comprises of a one-hour feature film, 25 short films, a free action toolkit, free smartphone app, website, social media channels as well as touring screenings and photography exhibitions.
Here’s How We’re ‘Nudging’ Audiences:
How it’s Being Used
Changing the environment and preparing people for change
Short videos and feature film
Visualising outcomes and ease of engaging and adopting
Photography exhibitions and film screenings
Sensory and engagement
Action Tool Kit – online & print
Conforming – ‘the mob effect’
Self-control strategies – routines to counter weaknesses
Through storytelling, the Take Heart project is ‘nudging’ audiences by enabling individuals and groups to make informed decisions to better theirs and others’ health and to ultimately, support the prevention and treatment of RHD. Take Heart has encouraged action on both local and government levels. While the feature documentary, short films and other activities for the project have been widely broadcast across Australia and internationally – assisting in making the disease better known, there is still a long way to go to close the gap on RHD. Follow Take Heart on Facebook here to stay up to date on the project.
Moonshine Agency crafts stories that take audiences on a journey, inspiring action and change. Nudge Theory is one of many impact tactics that we use to activate our audiences to inspire change.