Just Want to Nudge Crime Away?
People do strange things sometimes.
They behave in ways they shouldn't, say things they'd best keep to themselves and make decisions that make no rational sense.
This beautiful Gordian knot that is human behaviour never ceases to fascinate and baffle us - and the impact that applying behavioural insights can have is astounding, sometimes even confusing.
A deep understanding of human behaviour has applications in virtually any field of endeavour. It is sometimes used by brands and agencies for marketing purposes (which is what we do at Lab), but quite interestingly, governments have been using it to deter crime.
It might be surprising that paintings of babies’ faces on walls and shop shutters have helped reduce crime rates in problem areas.
If you have ever frequented a McDonald's late at night, or walked through various tube stations, you will have noticed classical music being played - that's because it reduces the risk of crimes. (Here's an interesting way it has been applied in London.)
Over the last few years we have seen various applications of Nudge Theory across government policy, education and advertising. These come through the famous Nudge Units, which come up with ideas that most of the time surpass legislation in effectiveness. In other words, if you nudge someone to do something, it is more likely that they will do it than if you simply enforce it by law!
When making decisions, choice architecture is unavoidable; thus ‘choice architects’, or someone who designs the environment to increase the likelihood of an option being chosen, are also essential.
For example, anyone is able to commit crimes on any street, but the environment on the street might increase the likelihood of people choosing to commit a crime in that particular area, e.g. darkened corners or places void of CCTV.
If we are able to influence crime rates with imagery and provide a sense of tranquillity through music in challenging areas, how else can we nudge choices to positively influence behaviour within communities?
The possibilities are endless and exciting. Once we start applying the lens of human behaviour when looking at the world, it's amazing how much more perceptive we become - and how many areas of improvement stand out.
Beatrice Andrew is head of neuromarketing at Lab