Negative Nudging

Imagine a world where the number of hospitals is consciously being reduced. Would this scarcity nudge people towards a healthier lifestyle? My hunch says, probably not. Moreover, the collateral damage of such a decision would become quickly apparent: Fewer hospitals will actually result in more sick people.

This brings us to a curious exploration of negative nudging – a tactic where leaders attempt to steer behavior by penalizing the undesired actions. But does this approach truly drive our habits in the intended direction?

A newly developed suburb in the Netherlands was intentionally crafted with a scarcity of parking spots. The thinking was that residents would adapt and minimize their car usage. The reality? A perpetual state of chaos, with neighbors fighting each other for each invaluable parking spot.

Negative nudging seems to stumble when the unintended consequences of the cure are worse than the illness.

So, what if we pivot our approach? If the goal is to amplify positive behavior, let’s eliminate the barriers that inhibit people from taking the desired actions.

Take sales, for instance. If we aim to grow sales, let’s obliterate every obstacle for our clients to buy. Say goodbye to exhaustive digital payment checks, non-supportive customer support, and pushy salespeople.

Subtraction often triumphs over addition.

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