Policy


Nudge & Sludge (Guest Post by Gino Engle)

15

Dec 2016

Nudge & Sludge (Guest Post by Gino Engle)

By now we are all well-accustomed with the notion of ‘nudge’, as popularised by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Nudges alter the choice architecture around decision-making to enable more helpful decisions to be made, more often. Simply put, nudges change behaviour by helping individuals make better decisions: from encouraging healthier eating by placing fruit at eye-level, to boosting retirement savings by making pensions schemes the default option. Almost a decade since the release of Nudge – and with government-led ‘nudge units’ springing up across the world – this notion has become somewhat of a new orthodoxy. As Cait Lamberton puts it,...

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Big Data’s Growing Pains

15

Dec 2016

Big Data’s Growing Pains

What is ‘Big Data’? The words ‘big data’ seem to be everywhere these days. Detailed, and valuable, personal information is generated from just about everything in our daily lives, and is utilized by our social media sites and marketers to target products, information and services that our behaviour suggests that we’ll ‘like’.[1] While many people refer to big data as purely digital inputs, like online and social network behaviour, in actual fact most companies include traditional data transactions and records, such as point-of-sale interactions, in their analytics and persona development too. The use of Big Data is credited as one...

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Brexit, Trump and lessons for local elections

01

Aug 2016

Brexit, Trump and lessons for local elections

2016 is proving a contentious and important year for voting. From Brexit, to the US presidential race, to South Africa’s municipal elections just 3 days away, the democratic project is being put through its paces. As important as it is, from a behavioural perspective voting has some inherent weaknesses. There are many cognitive biases and heuristics – mental shortcuts – impeding our making the ‘right’ choice in elections. First and foremost, they require us to think – hard, rationally and comparatively – about a whole host of important, sizable issues that most of us don’t understand let alone engage with regularly....

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The power of the youth: young South Africans’ voting behaviour

27

Jul 2016

The power of the youth: young South Africans’ voting behaviour

No moment has made the importance of the youth vote more evident than the recent Brexit referendum. Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – have surpassed the baby boomer numbers of our grandparents in many countries. Millennials worldwide are also the population group least likely to vote. According to the last polls done just before the Brexit referendum, 72% of 18-24 year olds were in favour of remaining in the European Union (EU). They are also the population who’ll be most effected by the decision to leave. There are 15 million millennials in the United Kingdom (UK). Only 34% voted in the referendum. It...

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“Social norms as incentives to non-automotive travel behaviour” by William Riggs

14

Jul 2016

“Social norms as incentives to non-automotive travel behaviour” by William Riggs

Most methods of travel promotion programs have a market-centered approach to nudging or incentivizing people to use alternative forms of transportation. Predominately these either involve offering financial rewards for transit and carpool systems or implementing taxing costs on private vehicle transport. This paper looks at the importance of social norms and forces such as peer pressure and societal expectations in changing people’s attitudes towards walking, cycling or taking the bus rather than driving themselves around. In recent studies it was noted that people responded more to the idea that they were being socially responsible than that they would get a gift...

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What to do about water?

08

Jun 2016

What to do about water?

As we saw in our first post, we are in the midst of a water crisis. A lack of water affects 4 in 10 people worldwide. 900 children under the age of five die every single day without access to clean, drinkable water. There has been a six-fold increase in water consumption in the last century alone. South Africa estimates a national deficit of 2 044 million cubic metres by 2025, under a decade away. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said, “Science has spoken… Time is not on our side”. So, what is being done about it today? Water worth its...

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The Invisible Forces that Shape Our Prejudices

16

Feb 2016

The Invisible Forces that Shape Our Prejudices

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees This is a statement Guterres recently made during a talk with TED Global’s Bruno Giussani in relation to the refugee challenges that currently exist across the world, particularly in Europe. And he is far from the first person to say it. Guterres convincingly argues that this tendency towards diversity is inevitable, and that any efforts to slow down or prevent it would actually do more damage than good. He offers Donald Trump’s idea of closing the United States’ doors to Muslim refugees as an example. Now, apart from the moral, ethical and reputational...

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A State of Happiness

18

May 2015

A State of Happiness

A growing area of interest, at both organizational and state levels, is happiness. Proponents argue that focusing on monetary wealth is both unsustainable and ineffective, if the primary objective of a society is to increase the happiness and well being of all of its members. In fact, a study by Ed Diener and colleagues looking at the correlation between levels of wealth and happiness in the USA since 1950 has proved just this. The study demonstrates, whilst there have been rapid increases in wealth over the fifty year period, people’s reported levels of happiness have remained relatively stagnant. This is an all too significant and familiar failure across our contemporary global society. These failed promises of wealth are why countless governments, businesses and international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) have decided to look beyond traditional economic systems and theory to fields such as behavioural science,...

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