Patrick Fagan is a lecturer, author, and public speaker, and consults for brands and political campaigns around the world.
He was the lead behavioural scientist at the now-infamous Cambridge Analytica.
In simpler terms, Cambridge Analytica was a company that collected lots of data on people, including what they liked, who they were friends with, and other personal details. They used this information to figure out how people might vote in an election and then created targeted ads to try and influence those voting decisions. Their use of Facebook data without permission is what got them into trouble.
Nudge Theory is a psychological concept that explores how small changes in the way choices are presented can have a profound effect on our behaviour.
For example, by making subtle changes in the way choices are presented, we can influence people’s decisions without restricting their freedom or resorting to coercion.
And they won’t notice.
Nudges can be thought of as gentle pushes in a particular direction, designed to guide individuals towards making choices.
At the core of Nudge Theory lies the concept of “choice architecture” which refers to the way choices are structured and presented to individuals. In other words, the way information is framed, the order in which options are presented, and the context in which decisions are made can significantly impact our choices.
This kind of psychological manipulation has found its way into various aspects of our lives, often without us even realising it.
Governments and media have used nudges to great success. Simply consider the anti-Russia (or anti-China) sentiment in the West. Consider how, for instance, Hollywood has been a US government mouthpiece for American exceptionalism and a tool for shaping opinion.