By Benjamin Vincent

Nudge Theory, popularised by Thaler & Sunstein, proposes that our decisions can be biased by relatively small changes in choice architecture. While we might be well intentioned, our human fallibility and modern environments sometimes require 'choice architects' to nudge us back on the path toward individual and collective wellbeing. Whether used for good or bad, Nudge Theory is most often applied downhill - the few (state or commercial players) nudge the many (citizens or consumers).

I would like to propose that Reverse Nudge Theory might be a good term for nudging uphill. For governments and corporations are also made up of individuals - and these individuals are equally prone to political, economic, and career forces which may get in the way of them making decisions that would be in our best interests.

Such reverse nudging is not a new endeavour of course. The formation of labour unions, the democratic process, and 'voting with your wallet' are all good examples of this. So while well-intentioned choice architects nudge us, perhaps we need to be equally creative in nudging them back for their (and our) own good.


I would add that the idea of “reverse nudging” may help us understand the role of juries (as well as the practice of jury nullification). The few — the lawyers and the judge — get to argue their cases (lawyers) and decide questions of law (judge), but the jury (the many) is supposed to have the final say.

F.E. Guerra-Pujol · 2 Mar, 2018
Please log in to add a comment.

Benjamin Vincent



Published: 18 Oct, 2017

Cc by