In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Richard H. Thaler one of the two authors of the acclaimed book on Nudges, stresses the necessity to persue “Nudge for good”. While he observes that this is indeed the case in public policy, he notes that often enough it is not in the private sector, where “many companies are nudging for their own profit and not in customers’ best interest.”

He therefore enumerates a set of principles which should guide the use of nudges for both the public and private sector. Bad nudges do violate one of the following three points:

  1. All nudging should be transparent and never misleading
  2. It should be as easy as possible to opt out of the nudge, preferably with as little as one mouse click
  3. There should be a good reason to believe that the behavior being encouraged will improve the welfare of those being nudged