In times of home office and exit restrictions, many find it particularly difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. Researchers therefore recommend tools that strengthen self-control. An apple photo on the fridge is just one example.
Self-nudging is a behavioral science method that everyone can use to strengthen their self-control skills. The "self-nudge", which has gained popularity in the scientific world in recent years, should make it possible to shape and structure your own decision-making environment. This is what researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) write in the journal "Behavioral Public Policy". "We all have different needs and desires in our minds and bodies that are constantly negotiating with each other. Self-nudging can help to deal with these inner negotiation processes more consciously. Self-knowledge can be promoted with very practical tools," explains Samuli Reijula , Director of Studies and Philosopher at the University of Helsinki, presented in a communication by the MPIB. Four categories The researchers present the self-nudging tools in four categories and at the same time give examples of them: Placing memories and clues for yourself: for example, a photo of an apple the fridge door or the jogging shoes in front of the bed. Providing a different framework for decisions (framing): In this category, for example, the decision between jogging and non-jogging could also be seen as a decision between health or illness in old age or welcome each staircase as an opportunity to increase life expectancy a little. Reduce accessibility to things that can hurt and introduce hurdles, or vice versa, make the things you want easy. This can be, for example, changing the default settings in electronic devices or turning off notifications from social media apps. If that's not enough, you could build pressure and commitment with the help of social contracts. It would be conceivable here to commit friends to a donation to a club or a party that you really don't like, for example if you don't meet the deadline for submitting a job. For years, politicians and behavioral economists have had an impact on the citizens of a country with nudging. However, the procedure is controversial among scientists, because: "When it comes to nudging, there is always a gap in information. For example, when the state uses nudging, it determines the behavior of citizens by deciding what is good for them and taking measures into them The citizens sometimes don't even know that or how they are being nudged. The danger of a paternalistic and manipulating state is there, "says Ralph Hertwig, director of the Adaptive Rationality research department at the MPIB. In addition, politics can only achieve changes in public space, although many decisions are made in private space. With self-nudging, on the other hand, both the problem of the information gap and the inaccessibility of private space can be avoided. A typical example of a nudge is the placement of fruit at eye level at the cafeteria of canteens and school canteens, while the cake is hidden in a corner that is difficult to reach, the researchers write. Since politics knows about the long-term health-damaging effects of the innate desire for sweets, it can influence people's decisions by changing the food placement in public cafeterias. But even at dinner at home, these nudges no longer arrive. The self-nudger, on the other hand, recognizes which factors in the environment are putting their self-control to the test. He could use the same principles that are used when nudging in public spaces, for example by keeping sweets in the back of your kitchen on the top kitchen shelf. The researchers therefore advocate the methods of self-nudging. "In this way it is no longer the state that nudges us, but we nudge ourselves if we want to. And if the state provides targeted and understandable information about ways of self-nudging, for example with fact boxes, apps or brochures, it can pursue socially accepted goals such as healthier nutrition by supporting citizens in making informed and self-determined decisions, "says Hertwig. The researchers' findings were published in the journal" Behavioral Public Policy ".