The project, carried out jointly at the universities of Manchester and Southampton, experimented with different intervention techniques which encourage citizen participation and explored people’s motivations for community involvement.
The researchers focused on comparing the effectiveness of ‘nudge’ techniques, where people are offered incentives to change their behaviour, and ‘think’ techniques, which takes a planned approach where people are given information, the opportunity to discuss and debate a subject, and then opportunity to act. Overall, they found that while the nudge interventions yielded better results, these were not always sustained in the long term.
Another experiment, using both techniques, attempted to encourage students to add their names to the organ donor register. Dividing students into three groups the researchers found that the group given an information booklet on organ donation experienced a 34 per cent increase in registrations; the placebo group given information on swine flu recorded a 30 per cent increase in registrations; but the group given the information on organ donation and time to discuss it achieved a 15 per cent increase in registrations.
“The think experiments gave us more modest results, but it does not mean that Governments should dismiss this approach,” argues Professor John. “Face-to-face techniques, more so than on-line, offer the potential for a richer and more complex platform for discussion and participation.”
The reason this caught my eye has to so with persuasion and getting people to take that step to act. If we want to change people’s minds, they have to be actively open to being changed. These techniques may be ways to push open the door a bit and get them to take those first steps and engage. Maybe thinking about an issue in a new way can also be sparked by the same nudge and think technique.
Nudge someone today or engage them with new information to discuss. Talking about a topic you’ve seen here on Doubtful News? Point them to the site and let’s discuss! Go for it!