Soft design and the “nudge unit”

A few weeks ago in Britain’s Ministry of Nudges, Katrin Bennhold explored the work of the United Kingdom’s new(ish) Behavioral Insights Team, for the NYT Sunday Business section. The team was started-up by Prime Minister David Cameron after reading ‘Nudge‘ by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.

Two key concepts:

1) The idea of behavioral economics as a form of soft design. The article touches on the idea of shaping “choice architecture“. Perhaps simply another way of saying that “everything needs to actually be ‘architected’…“.

2) The group started off almost as a “guerilla operation” similar in spirit to the off talked about guerilla urbanism. The goal is “evidence-based policy-making“, wherein the scientific method results in an iterative process. Social design, devised and refined via small-bore, research/trials.


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