Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory Jonathan Poland

Nudge theory is the idea that subtle suggestions, choices, and positive reinforcement can be more effective than commands, rules, and punishment in influencing behavior. This theory has implications for a wide range of fields, including government, education, marketing, and leadership.

Nudges are effective because they engage people in a friendly manner and guide them towards a particular idea or choice without imposing it on them. Because people have a strong sense of autonomy and are motivated to make their own choices, nudges can be a powerful way to influence behavior without coming across as overly controlling or manipulative. By presenting people with a range of options and using subtle cues to guide them towards a desired choice, nudges can help people make decisions that align with their own goals and preferences.

Choice Architecture
Choice architecture is the design of a series of choices with the goal of influencing outcomes. For example, a salesperson may guide a customer through a series of choices for options. Such a presentation may be carefully designed to maximize sales by leading most customers towards expensive choices. Choice architecture typically uses nudges but not always.

Advertising that contains no call to action can typically be considered a nudge designed to trigger ideas and emotions as opposed to telling the customer what to think or do.

Nudge in Design
Nudge theory is commonly applied to design. For example, a paper towel dispenser may include a picture of a green forest that gets depleted each time a towel is taken. This may be more effective at reducing consumption than a command such as “only one towel per customer!”

Learn More
Risk Management Jonathan Poland

Risk Management

Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks in order to minimize their potential impact on an…

Decision Costs Jonathan Poland

Decision Costs

Decision costs refer to the costs associated with making a decision. These costs can take many forms, including the time…

Capitalism Jonathan Poland


Capitalism is an economic system based on the principles of economic freedom, private ownership, and the creation of wealth through…

Product Requirements Jonathan Poland

Product Requirements

Product requirements refer to the documented expectations and specifications that outline the desired characteristics and features of a product or…

Sales and Operations Planning Jonathan Poland

Sales and Operations Planning

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is a process used by companies to effectively align their sales plans with their operational…

Daily Goals Jonathan Poland

Daily Goals

Daily goals are targets that you set for yourself to achieve on a particular day. These can include habits that…

Marketing Channel Jonathan Poland

Marketing Channel

The total combined industries of consumer goods and services.

Accounts Receivable Jonathan Poland

Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable (AR) are the outstanding amounts owed to a business by its customers for goods or services provided on…

Influence Jonathan Poland


Influence is the ability to have an impact on the thoughts, behaviors, and values of an individual. It can involve…

Content Database

Search over 1,000 posts on topics across
business, finance, and capital markets.

Human Behavior Jonathan Poland

Human Behavior

Behavior is a pattern of actions or reactions that varies depending on factors such as context and mood. It is…

Government Contract Renewals 150 150 Jonathan Poland

Government Contract Renewals

Renewing a government contract typically involves a series of steps to assess the contractor’s performance, determine whether renewal is in…

Job Titles Jonathan Poland

Job Titles

Job titles are brief labels that are used to describe the duties, goals, and expectations of a job. Some companies…

Target Costing Jonathan Poland

Target Costing

Target costing is a cost management approach that involves setting a target cost for a product or service and then…

Labor Productivity Jonathan Poland

Labor Productivity

Labor productivity is a measure of the efficiency with which labor is used to produce goods and services. It is…

Channel Management Jonathan Poland

Channel Management

Channel management refers to the process of coordinating and optimizing the distribution channels that a company uses to bring its…

Relational Capital Jonathan Poland

Relational Capital

Relational capital refers to the value that a company derives from its relationships with stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers,…

Strategic Communication Jonathan Poland

Strategic Communication

Strategic communication is the deliberate planning, dissemination, and use of information to influence attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It is a…

Accept vs Except Jonathan Poland

Accept vs Except

To accept is to consent, to receive or to believe something. Except means “not including.” Accept: to consent, to receive,…