The Nudge Family gets festive

There’s a euphoric air around and most of us have already set that out-of-office email message and traded traffic for chill. The annual festive shutdown is here, bringing with it last-minute gift shopping, meal prepping, and social planning: the trifecta of holiday decision-making.

And with that of course, comes the Nudge Family — ready to help guide and steer you to various courses of action over the holidays. Some helpful and in your best interests. Others, less so.

Remember meeting our Nudge Family? They’re four key personalities with different intentions when it comes to how they want you to live your life. At some point, you’ve invited each of them into your home. They’ve joined you at the dinner table, they’ve run errands alongside you, they’ve driven home from work with you. And with (and sometimes without) your awareness of them, they’ve helped to shape the decisions you make on a daily basis.

Before you see them all again this festive period, it’s worth getting to know the Nudge Family a bit better. So that if you choose to include them in your holiday plans … it’s on your terms.

Dutiful Nudge

Ho. Ho. Ho. Dutiful Nudge takes on a Santa persona (the godfather of nudging behaviour from an early age) as soon as the calendar rolls to December. They work hard to incentivise good behaviour and work closely with the Deliberate Nudge who is responsible for deterring bad behaviour. Getting 75% cash back on healthier festive grocery shopping is an example of where the Dutiful Nudge shines. Encouraging you to choose restaurants with healthier food options (like with the Vitality HealthyDining benefit), is another. And before the January resolutions even hit, the Dutiful Nudge has taken over the gym scene, offering 2020 memberships with December included for free. As long as it’s in your best interests, they’ll offer you the world.

Dark Nudge

The Dark Nudge hides in your favourite malls and stores. They love Christmas discounts, 2-for-1 deals and encourage urgency with your purchases through limited time offers and 12-days-of-Christmas sales. They even work with your bank to offer you more credit opportunities, so that push notification offering a credit increase has been carefully crafted by the Dark Nudge. They give an allure of ease, benefit and compelling treats — making you feel exclusive and special, if you even notice them at all. If you invite them to spend time with you this holiday, just remember: Dark Nudges don’t put you first.

Deliberate Nudge

The Deliberate Nudge starts their festive period early — working with Santa with the threat of no presents to nudge children to better behaviour. Deliberate Nudges are slow, considered and methodical. They want you to stop, pause and think before proceeding. Knowing that you’ll likely get a Christmas bonus and paid out your salary early in the month, they collaborate with insurers and financial institutions to move your debit order dates. This way you pay your important expenses first before spending it all on holiday temptations. They won’t force you to do anything, they just present themselves as barriers when you’re making choices to ensure you’ve thought things through well enough.

Dreadful Sludge

During the festive period, the Dreadful Sludge turns into the Grinch. At the end of the year you may look at the contracts you’ve signed up for, be it magazine subscriptions, telephone contracts, or streaming services. And you might have the goal to consolidate your spend going into the new year. But Dreadful Sludge doesn’t let you. They never have good intentions and are a combination of roadblocks and quick sand, engulfing you in long and drawn out processes that ultimately put you off completing them. Or, at the very least, make the process you are trying to navigate unbearable through ineffective call centres, long queues and paperwork burdens.

Between now and the new year, you’ll likely make hundreds of thousands of decisions. Which members of the Nudge Family will you invite into your house to help with this? And who will slip in, unnoticed, anyways?

Leigh Crymble is a Behavioural Linguist and the founder of BreadCrumbs — a Behavioural Linguistics firm that combines sociolinguistics, psychology and behavioural science to create compelling content.

Leigh is a doctoral student at Wits Business School and the founder of BreadCrumbs.