In the latest project, the Risk Dialogue Foundation, on behalf of the FOPH, AWEL and FSVO, is investigating the possibilities of using nudging to improve UV protection behaviour in the Swiss population. Above a certain intensity, UV radiation damages our skin and eyes and, in the worst case, leads to skin cancer. Although this knowledge is relatively widespread among the population, the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise. Switzerland even occupies a top position worldwide in the incidence of skin cancer. How can adequate sun protection behaviour be supported? Since direct advice and information campaigns reach their limits of effectiveness, alternative approaches are in demand.
One approach that promises a lot of potential is « nudging ». Nudging comes from behavioural economics, which is the interface between psychology and economics. The aim of nudging is to induce people to behave in a desired way using indirect incentives and based on psychological mechanisms.
The term has been coined since 2008 by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein and is defined as follows: « By nudge, then, we mean all measures by which decision architects can change people’s behaviour in a predictable way without eliminating any options or greatly altering economic incentives. A nudge must at the same time be easy to circumvent without much effort. » In the recent past, nudges have also been increasingly discussed in the context of strategic risk communication, specifically in the context of prevention efforts in health protection – for example, in the promotion of health-conscious nutrition in canteens.
However, nudging is also discussed controversially in public. A frequent accusation against nudging is that it is a form of manipulation. Although, by definition, a nudge should always serve the good of the person, this premise can call into question people’s autonomous self-determination. These concerns need to be taken seriously, especially when the sender of the nudge is a government agency. Accordingly, important framework conditions, such as transparency in the development and communication of nudges, are taken into account in the project.
The concrete nudges are developed in a broad, creative process and the results are made publicly available. In doing so, it is ensured that as much input as possible is collected from the expert community as well as from specific target groups in order to ensure a high level of acceptance of the nudges and thus achieve an impact.
We are looking forward to the cooperation!