Nudging the Warriors

An intention-behaviour gap where stated intentions don’t result in behaviour.

Everyone wants a better world, but people don’t want to change their behaviour.

Knowingly or unknowingly, consumers are torn between these two - forming a cognitive dissonance. From environmental issues to organ donation, even the ethical warriors don’t like to deal with problems.

This is mainly caused by an intention-behaviour gap where stated intentions don’t result in behaviour. Similar to the artificial ‘claimed data’ created by focus groups or the fact that most people don’t use their gym membership, many people like to think they would act a certain way or buy products that are good for the world, but in most cases they return to the default easier choice. In fact a Futerra Study found that 90% of consumers who consider themselves ‘ethically minded’ rarely end up purchasing ethical products.

One of the keys to changing behaviour is changing the status quo. By refining the choice architecture to make the ethical choice the default, people feel more comfortable and there is less loss aversion towards the change. Extensively explored by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their Nudge Theory  they found that simple nudges, such as making organ donation status mandatory on licences, improved decision making.

Piano Staircase by Volkswagon Fun Theory

Other tactics for changing the ecosystem of influence include translating the impact from a big idea to a relevant message and targeting the ‘addiction to now’ with incentives or social signalling badges that give the consumer an instant reward.