Let’s invent the Moringa Nudge.
Theorized and popularized by the 2017 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Richard Thaler, in a book published in 2008*, the nudge is a behavioral technique that aims to gently change the habits of a target audience. First acclaimed by public authorities and companies, the nudge now inspires individuals who want to act in a more responsible and virtuous way, without feeling guilty and with a minimum of constraint. Let us understand the nudge and use it with Moringa.
The nudge is based on the idea that, even if they seem thoughtful to us, our decisions are more induced by irrational reflexes. According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, most of our decisions are made, not with the rational side of our brain, but with a more intuitive and spontaneous side of it; what he calls System 1. For everyone, it’s the physical and social environment in which he/she evolves that impacts each of his/her deed and determines his/her System 1. Does this mean that our decisions are beyond control, even for ourselves? Not necessarily. Actually, we can understand and therefore anticipate someone’s intuitive reactions and choice mechanisms, by studying his/her environment and the resulting psychological biases. Hence the interest that this represents for behavioral economics.
Fostering better choices
More concretely, nudge therefore consists in modifying in a subtle – and, above all, inexpensive – way the environment of individuals in order to encourage them to make spontaneous decisions or to adopt new uses, likely to help them to achieve their own goals.
For example, imagine a person who wants to lose weight: a nudge tip would be to make him/her eat on smaller plates than usual, so that, despite reduced food portions, his/her meals appear as much, or even more, plentiful than before. As a result, the amount of eaten food will decrease while the feeling of satiety will be maintained and the risk of relapse reduced. That person could more easily achieve his/her goal without the frustration of dieting.
And here is how small details lead to big changes, without persuasion or coercive argument. As proof of the effectiveness of the nudge, many Western governments now use it for their public policies, in particular those which are intended to change behavior (road safety, health, ecology, etc.).
The limits of self-control
What about you? How often do you make decisions that are not rationally “right” for you? Smoking, for example, is contraindicated and everyone knows the damage it can do to health. However, that does not prevent some from engaging in this practice. This shows that willpower alone is not always enough to gain good habits and give up mistakes. To move from intention to action, the ideal would rather be to integrate new automatisms.
Beyond the addictive nature of smoking, the question that arises is: what could have led these smokers to light their very first cigarette? More importantly, how to make them stop? By applying the nudge technique, we can identify the environmental stimuli that cause these persons to smoke (professional stress, conflict situation, festive atmosphere, etc.) and the triggers that could subsequently cause them to relapse. Then, it would be possible to provoke an automatic response opposed to these stimuli by modifying the behavioral biases.
The force of habit
For all ordinary people, nudge is a daily routine matter. Repetition leads to habit. This way, we avoid the choice dilemma that generates procrastination. For example, if you dedicate 15 minutes each morning to a yoga session, after a while, you will no longer have to think about it; you will end up doing it systematically, without asking any questions. Furthermore, unlike self-control, habits persist even when the brain, paralyzed by stress, goes into “automatic pilot” mode.
Here is a 7-step process to easily introduce good habits into your daily life and no longer suffer bad reflexes:
– Make a list of tasks and activities for your ideal typical day. Preferably start with a positive action that would have a sort of virtuous domino effect.
– Be precise in your intentions by formulating them clearly, especially regarding the deadline or the estimated duration of the activities.
– Prioritize the tasks according to their urgency or their importance in case an imponderable would disrupt your routine and force you to sort them out.
– Stay realistic in your expectations; no pressure.
– Set up reminders to relieve the stress of forgetting.
– If possible, reward yourself for each performed task; the effort will seem less heavy. In addition, it will provide the emotional anchor without which no habit persists.
– At the end of the day, congratulate yourself on what has been done well and identify, for the following day, the points to be improved.
Nudge and sludge: ethical questions
You should know that nudge has a moral dimension: the idea is not to manipulate individuals to take advantage of their unconscious naivety. Richard Thaler himself writes his book’s dedications with the formula “Nudge for good”. The ultimate test when applying nudge is to check whether, after discovering the incentive lever that influenced their choice, the targeted people would still be satisfied with their decision. Therefore, the nudge should always be carried out in the interests of the concerned individuals, in a transparent and, above all, bypassable manner so as to respect their free will. Otherwise, it’s rather what they call sludge. Example of a sludge practice: those sweets that are placed at supermarket checkouts, at the children’s reach.
The nudge applied to the Moringa
The moringa consumed in consciousness and gradually at its optimal dosage, settles in life as a habit in the first gestures of the day, in a yogurt or a smoothie.
The intake of Moringa is sensitive, so that by the feeling that it will generate will trigger the desire to cultivate one’s health throughout the day.
The effects on weight control and on the energy generated will promote momentum to start and continue sports activities.
During the day, the Moringa consumed in capsule or gelulle is a healthy gesture that advantageously takes over a coffee or a cigarette.
Moringa behavior can thus settle as the best healthy nudge.
*Co-written with Cass Sunstein, the book is entitled Nudge – Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (Yale University Press).