The Power of Nudges

A friend sent me a link to How Google Employees Cut 3 Million Calories From Their Diets. The changes were accomplished through “nudges”. The idea of nudging people to change comes from Richard H. Thaler’s book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

Bowl of Fruit © Viktorija |

A nudge is something that makes a good decision slightly easier, and/or the opposing bad decision slightly less easy. Nothing is prohibited or exceptionally difficult, it’s just about making the good choice easier than the poor choice. For example, you put healthy snacks in a bowl on the table or counter, and the unhealthy snacks in the back of a cabinet. The unhealthy snacks are still available, but getting one takes slightly more effort. This technique is amazingly good at helping people change certain behaviours.

How could you use the idea of nudges to help your husband and/or kids make better choices? Or maybe making fewer choices that drive you crazy! If you have some ideas, share in the comments so everyone can benefit!

Survey: The current TMB survey is Wives: Want to be ravished? I usually have a pretty good idea how a survey will come out, but I have no idea on this one. I’ve heard a few women talk fondly of the time their husband did this, including some who I would never have expected to enjoy it. I’ve also heard women who sounded like they might get violent if their husband did this. Hit the link and add your anonymous thoughts.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I think my wife has nudged me into some great things!

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10 Comments on “The Power of Nudges

  1. Hmmm, how do I nudge him…..does growling count? j/k…
    we’ve been working on eating healthier lately, so I watched a documentary the other night and he really seemed to listen to it with me. Also, he is helping me stand up to people who bring sugar into our home.

    Sometimes when I see a good role model, or something I want our family or our kids to look and be like, I’ll point it out to him and comment on it.

    If he’s being brave, something he wouldn’t normally do, I encourage him.

  2. We always enjoying taking part in & learning about your surveys & their results. I’m really looking forward to seeing this current _ravished_ survey results and your helpful posts that are likely to follow it, as well as others’ comments. (hopefully positive on being ravished by husband)
    Thank you for keeping your blog.

  3. Paul, how far do you take these “nudges”? Are they always in a direction one person “nudges” the other where the second already says they want to change?

    We have worked with couples who want the partner to change yet the partner is resistent.

    So are these nudges to help develop a habit the other wants or to develop a habit the first spouse wants but the second sees no reason to change?

    As my article listed below, we men do make mistakes and should appreciate it when our wife helps us improve. We both know that does not always prove to be true.

    Thanks for your work. Hope your finances are doing well for your “maiden voyage”?
    Jerry Stumpf recently posted…4 simple mistakes husbands make in everyday lifeMy Profile

    • I think it’s fine to nudge both what our spouse wants to do and what we want them to do. A nudge is not force or coercion, and can be ignored fairly easily. It’s making the candy less easy to get to, not hiding it or throwing it out!

      Coming along on the finances. I need to do an update.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…The Other Side of What She WantsMy Profile

  4. Nudges: My marriage therapist encouraged me to reward positive choices and ignore bad ones. Seems like good advice to me but I don’t know if that counts as a nudge or not.

    If I want DH to be honest with me about things he’d rather hide, I can make that choice a lot easier for him when he knows I won’t get angry and start yelling.

    Don’t know if this counts as a nudge, but getting a puppy helped my family learn not to leave their clothes all over the floor! Natural consequences. Not the reason we got a puppy, but a delightful side effect.

    • What your therapist suggested is an excellent plan, but not quite the same thing.

      Your second is closer to being a nudge – maybe a nudge in reverse? If he knows you will get angry you are nudging him away from talking. If he knows you will not get angry you remove the nudge to not talk.

      I’m big on natural consequences, and I think they apply to marriage too. I’d even take this into the emotional realm, as long as it’s not over done or vindictive.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…The Other Side of What She WantsMy Profile

  5. I hardly know how to respond when my husband has a large task that it’s financially imperative for him to do, that he says he wants to do, and that I could help him do, but he says he doesn’t want me to mention it because “he knows what he needs to do” – and then I see him doing beau coups recreational activities and never doing the task. This has been going on for two years. I thought this over when I read your post yesterday and I came to the conclusion that all I can do is to do nothing. That’s what he’s asking me to do. It means I have to work a full time and a part time job and can probably never retire, but I love my husband, who is a fine man in every other way. Having known this about him before we married helps me to deal with it now. He was my choice, after all.

    • I’m very sorry for your situation, but I applaud the way you are dealing with it. Some people have things they will never deal with, It hurts them and those around them, and it’s sad for everyone.
      You have my prayers.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…The Other Side of What She WantsMy Profile

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