Do we have free will or are we influenced by our environment, or even by our genes? This question has puzzled the scientific community and laymen for millennia, and in some ways, we are no closer to the answer. However, a new theory called Nudge theory, which suggests that, following on from behavioural sciences, that subtle suggestions and minor changes in the environment can profoundly influence behaviour. This theory could have a massive influence on a number of areas: town planning, the design of parks and packaging for food and drink, and social policy.
An example of Nudge theory will illustrate its effect. If you want people to eat more nutritious food, you can merely change a few things in the environment, and make suggestions (no force is needed) and people will become healthier. Grocers found that if you place arrows on the floor pointing to the vegetable and fruit, then people are more likely to buy them. Likewise, if you run a school and want your students to eat more healthy food, simply display it more prominently in the school canteen, and your pupils will order it for lunch.
So, if you are a business person, a designer of industrial goods such as packaging, or a politician, you do not have to force people to act in a particular way. Simply use Nudge theory.
To find out more about Nudge theory, see the infographic from our partners at PsySci.