Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"Nudges’ working mechanisms: effort and motivation"

Universiteit Utrecht - Social, Health, and Organisational Psychology

PhD Student
Laurens van Gestel

Prod. dr. Denise de Ridder
Prof. dr. Emely de Vet
Dr. Marieke Adriaanse

1 September 2016 - 31 December 2020

ZonMw Top Grant


In this project a series of controlled laboratory experiments is conducted to investigate how nudges are effective in promoting healthy eating behavior. Nudges have been defined as simple changes in the presentation of choice alternatives that make the healthy choice the easy choice, and allow for decisions without much deliberation and without infringing on the autonomy of the individual (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008). It is theorized that nudges facilitate healthy eating in a way that does not require much effort or conscious processing while respecting individual autonomy. However, very little is known about the working mechanisms of nudging and research is needed to test whether these claims about the working mechanisms are justified. We will investigate the two main assumptions about the effectiveness of nudges that are frequently mentioned when summarizing the advantages of nudging, but that have remained untested until now: (1) the extent to which the effectiveness of nudges requires effort from individuals who are being nudged, and (2) the extent to which the effectiveness of nudges respects the intentions of the individual (i.e., motivation to eat more healthily). We will also examine how effort and motivation relate to acceptability of nudges. 

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