What unsustainable behavior needs to change:
A key aspect of sustainable diets is to prevent overconsumption of unhealthy foods, which often carry a large environmental footprint. In this way, healthy and sustainable food choices can go hand-in-hand.
However, food choices are difficult to change, because they often do not rely upon conscious reflection. Also, a large majority of food decisions are made in “busy” environments, such as (online) supermarkets, with multiple competing influences on food choice. Indeed, unhealthy food choices can be due to the lack of a clear and simple behavioural “trigger” for making responsible decisions at the right moment.
The Green Nudge:
A new type of digital nudge, called “just-in-time” (JIT) nudges, can positively influence product choice, such as when a person adds an unhealthy product to their virtual shopping cart.
The Tilburg University researchers partnered up with industry mobile developer Nakko to carry out a large field experiment with more than 20,000 participants. The study tested the ability of digital JIT nudges to increase healthy food purchases using a mobile self-scanning app. With the app, people could self-scan product barcodes from supermarket shelves, which added them to a virtual cart for easier checkout.
Participants in the study were divided into four groups. In the first group, when the app scanned an unhealthy product, it displayed a pop-up with a suggestion for a healthier alternative to choose. In the second and third groups of participants, the pop-up suggestion was accompanied by either text-based health information (e.g., “This alternative contains less sugar”) or image-based health information (a healthy heart logo). The fourth group – the control group – received no suggestions for alternative products.
The result: a higher percentage of nudged healthier products were chosen in the suggestion-only condition (38%) than in the control condition (30%), whereas the addition of text- or image-based health information did not boost effects.
Are you aware of any other nudges that promote healthier food choices? Feel free to comment or get in touch: email@example.com