Nudge



Nudge “. This is the meaning of the word nudge, which designates this way of drawing a person’s attention to what they are about to say, to do, or to a situation to be observed. This term, popularized in economics by an American book published in 2008 (1), has instead been translated as “boost” in France. The idea comes from behavioral economics, according to which human beings act with cognitive biases, contrary to the postulate ofHomo economicus perfectly rational. To modify one’s habits, it is therefore a question of using techniques of influence rather than resorting to prohibitions, obligations. The well-known example of a fly drawn at the bottom of urinals at Amsterdam airport, to avoid splashing, may seem anecdotal. But the method is used in all areas.

In France in 2013, electronic tax declaration was thus encouraged with messages such as “X% of your fellow citizens already use electronic declaration”, or by insisting on the time saved by declaring online rather than on paper. In the United States and the United Kingdom, nudge units were created in the early 2010s to improve road safety, food hygiene, etc. In France, a team is developing practices related to behavioral economics within the interministerial department for public transformation in Bercy.

This method is criticized: it would lead the authorities to no longer launch major public policies, and it would also risk deviating towards manipulation of individuals. Its promoters put forward two safeguards: the nudge must always come in support of major public policies, and must always leave the choice not to be followed.

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