In the book Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein, the concept of Choice Architecture is introduced.
Choice architecture is where the environment is set up in such a way that it influences the decisions that people make in a particular direction. It uses behavioural economics is often used to control consumer behaviour.
We can often see these effect in marketing, where they automatically check the box that opts you into their mailing list or the packaging or placement of goods. But we also see the effects when there is a lack of choice architecture.
Take the issue with COVID-19. The advice being given is to stay at home if you feel sick. However, if I don’t get paid when I don’t work, then my automatic behaviour is to work even if I’m feeling a bit sick. We need to put things in place that makes it easy for people to choose to stay home.
Then there is poor choice architecture, such as with IT security when we decide that password policies should be overly complicated. Policies like at least eight characters with one uppercase, one lowercase, one number and one special character that are changed every thirty days. People then follow poor password hygiene. So we need to make our policies friendly to people.
When trying to help people behave in a certain way, make it easier for them by looking at the choice architecture around it. This should not be a tool only for marketers driving consumption.