Nudge Theory Could Make Us Healthier, Drive Safer And Cut Hospital Waiting Lists

New policies, already introduced in the UK that introduce behaivioural science to policy formation, could prompt us to eat more healthily, drive safer, help cut hospital waiting lists and encourage socially disadvantaged teens to attend university.
The policy, entitled the Nudge Theory, which was formulated by the behavioural insights team in conjunction with the UK Government, builds policies around a more realistic model of human behaviour – in brief, it could be described as ‘asking nicely’. This may sound simplistic, but the prototype has already yielded substantial results in a number of key areas in the UK – in addition to being awarded the nobel prize for economics.
In the area of promoting healthy eating, a simple measure such as placing healthier foods at the beginning of the line in cafeterias has resulted in healthier eating.
Moreover, when the nudge theory was applied to the issuing of speeding fines – there was a subsequent reduction of 20% in the volume of speeding incidents and an increase in the number of people paying their fines. This was achieved when a simple flyer showing a photograph of flowers placed at a site where someone was killed due to speeding, was included.
The theory has also proved highly successful in persuading young people living in socially disadvantaged areas to apply for 3rd level education. University students originally from these deprived areas, were encouraged to write letters to teens to encourage them to apply. As a result, University applications in these disadvantaged areas increased by one third.
Moreover, in the field of hospital waiting lists in the UK, a simple re-designing of the digital referral platforms which GP’s use, which included a pop up screen showing local hospitals with the shortest waiting lists led to a reduction in hospital waiting times.
The results of the Nudge theory are hugely impressive and speak for themselves, especially in the key areas of health and education. As such, I am calling for a similar model, tailored to Irish society, to be introduced here as a matter of priority.

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