Nudgestock2020 highlights

June 16, 2020
min read
Nudgestock2020 highlights

Table of contents

What an end of the week we had Nudgestock2020. 14 hours of leading talks, case studies and 'Side Tents'.

This was, by far, the best Behavioral Science and Creativity Festival, we have seen so far.

When Ogilvy announced that "this year's festival is going to be bigger than ever before", I do not think anybody expected 30,000+ behavioural science and behavioural economics enthusiasts attending.  

In between breakfast, lunch, dinner and other necessary breaks; here are the speakers that caught our eye and the highlights of their presentations.

A variety of Side tents were available, seeing you can only attend one at the time, see our choices below.

Watch Nudgestock Global 2020 'hours 1-4' now:

Video Link


Dr Chiara Varazzani - Principal Behavioural Insights Advisor to the Victorian Government, Australia

Chiara spoke about the three different methods of using behavioural economics to inform policy and create change at different paces were explored:

  1. Robust, empirical evidence gathering
  2. Quick experiments to shift the gears and encourage change to happen
  3. Agile, Behaviorally Informed Advice

Learn more about Chiara and her work on applying Behavioral Science here.


Jason Collins - Director of Behavioural Economics, PwC Australia

Jason mentioned the fact that we have been opining about people's irrationality and that if only we designed the world more intelligently, people would make better decisions.

The Hot hand fallacy was given as an example and Thomas Gilovich, Robert Vallone and Amos Tversky work were mentioned and debated:

"There is strong evidence from the lab that people have misperceptions about what randomness looks like. When a person is asked to generate a series that approximates the flipping of a coin, they will alternate between heads and tails too often, and balance the frequencies of heads and tails over too short a sequence. When people are asked to judge which of two different sequences of coin flips are more likely, they tend to pick sequences with more alternation, despite their probability being the same".

Read Jason's presentation text here.


Bri Williams - Expert in Behavioural Influence

A fun presentation involving lots of hats and cake described Bri's Behavior Change Model where she hopes she can help people link the gap between an interest in behavioural economics and its application to everyday business issues.

The model consists of three key components:

  1. Defining the behavioural challenge
  2. Analysing the behavioural barriers (Apathy, Paralysis, Anxiety)
  3. Designing behavioural solutions to address each barrier

Read more about Bri's Behavior Change Model.


Jenny Chan - China Editor, WARC / Ashok Sethi - Co-founder and Director-Solutions of Behave Consulting / Lucy McCabe - Global Lead, Customer Engagement & Commerce, Ogilvy

Chinese people have never displayed such homogeneity of behaviour in recent history conforming to lockdown regulations to avoid the dreaded virus. Example of Habit Loops (Cue-Routine-Reward) that persevere through the pandemic and how brands can apply behavioural science to the COVID-19 was given (continuing to wear a Channel handbag with PPE).

Behaviour science tells us that natural fear of the unknown, authority bias and social herding have all contributed to the enormity to this behaviour change.

Read more on Applying BS to the COVID-19 outbreak.


Troy Andrews - Founder,

Troy spoke about the ABC method and the four main considerations to think about in the design phase of a presentation.

'What differentiates the ABC method from other methods is not only the strategic nature of this tool, but also on its heavy application of Behavioral Science, Behavioural Economics, and Persuasion Theory'.

  1. Change
  2. Audience
  3. Barriers
  4. Bridges


Anjali Kelkar - Founder & Director, Studio for Design Research

Design Strategist Anjali spoke about the acceleration from the 'Ooh and Aah' to 'AHA' and how behaviour is informed by individuals goals and motivations.

'Getting it about digging deep into the WHY'.

Understanding why people do what they do and where gives us a deep understanding of:

  1. Context of the issue
  2. Pain points
  3. Workarounds


'Growth & Conversion' Side Tent with Dan Bennett and Claudia Trainer on what is the 'Proportionality bias' and how does it hold us back from realising our organisations' full potential?

- Proportionality bias is considered one of the drivers of conspiracy theories - Think Big - Act Big.

- Fixed preferences (E.G. Beer brands)

- Nudge mixology (E.G. Sutherlands Cafe)

- Effort index

Things to remember:

  1. Get to the real why of the problem or challenge
  2. Think laterally about potential solutions
  3. Before ruling out a possible solution, test it in context.

Watch Nudgestock Global 2020 'hours 5-8' now:

Video link


Rory Sutherland - Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy

Valuable ideas of looking at behaviours through a behavioural economics lens and how this can lead to unexpected success. For lots of behavioural science, bias and reasons, there is a tendency in business to downplay psychological explanations.

Through competition, you can deliver products efficiently to people that they already know what they want, and what they are prepared to pay.

- Business explanation - you are close to the supply

- Psychological explanation - fish tastes better when you are next to the sea

- Complexity explanation - out of a party of 6 people there is always one that doesn't want fish but when you all go together at the seaside the mood is right to eat fish.

- Rational economic explanation - which satisfies your need to look rational and look business-like whilst at the same time not getting close to the real WHY.

Behavioural Science it's unpredictable, uncertain, and once you understand the real WHY you have something to build on.

Watch Rory's Keynote:


Jennie Roper - Head of Insight, Kinetic

Kinetic Worldwide's techniques are a more accurate way to predict how people will act in future.

Jennie is in charge of understanding people's daily travel routines and explains how an understanding of social proof has help accurately predict people travel routines. She speaks about how motivation and commitment make short term change to behaviour a new normal.

Requirements for accurate future behaviour prediction:

  1. Ask the right questions
  2. Use robust data sets
  3. Pick the right nudge


Dan Ariely - Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics, Duke University

Ariely covered four points on how do we prepare for resistance.

  1. Why do we react so strongly to things?
  1. Why is it so bad?
  1. How do we get out of this?
  1. How do we go back to normal?


'Behavioural Communications' Side Tent with Sam Tatam and Tiffany Tivasuradej on how to Diagnose and direct your communications strategy with behavioural science.

In this session, Sam covered the COM-B framework - a model of behaviour change that helps us focus our communications strategies.

Sam gave examples of how framework can focus people's energies and the following work was covered:  

  • #RecycleforLondon #AskTwice
  • Fresh solutions KFC variables
  • Five-factor personality and cultural cognition (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) - personality trait profiles correlate with certain behaviours and preferences and indicate which content, communications, messaging framing and creative executions will be more effective with each person.
  • NOCOVID organisation (Messaging that works best for the community)
  • Christian Aid ideas and interventions

Some of this presentation's details have been covered in the 2018-2019 Behavioural Science Annual.


Watch Nudgestock Global 2020 'hours 9-12' now:

Video link


Cass Sunstein - Co-author of 'Nudge' and Robert Walmsley Professor, Harvard

Cass talked about how social change happens:

  1. Preference falsification - the act of communicating a preference that differs from one's true preference
  2. Diverse thresholds - different people require different levels of social support before they will rebel or say what they actually think.
  3. Social Interaction - a dynamic, changing sequence of social actions between individuals or groups.
  4. Group polarization - the tendency for a group to make decisions that are more extreme than the initial inclination of its members.

More on how social change happens, and why it's so often abrupt & unpredictable on this 80,000 Hours episode.


Tara Austin - Chief Strategy Officer, Kindred

Tara spoke about the underlining of creative thinking and seeing she is a certified trainer of Edward de Bono's lateral thinking techniques Tara spoke about the use of the techniques in her daily work.

Lateral Thinking teaches us that anyone can have ideas. The trick is to let them evolve and incubate before you evaluate. This technique breaks us out of our patterns of thoughts.

There are four types of thinking tools:

  1. Idea-generating tools intended to break current thinking patterns-routine patterns, the status quo.
  2. Focus tools intended to broaden where to search for new ideas.
  3. Harvest tools intended to ensure more value is received from idea generating output.
  4. Treatment tools that promote consideration of real-world constraints, resources, and support. "Our thinking is excellent, but it is not enough" - Edward de Bono

Watch Nudgestock Global 2020 'hours 13-14' now:

Video link


Laurie Santos - Cognitive Scientist and Professor of Psychology, Yale University


  1. Your mind lies to you about what will make you happy
  2. Make time for making connections (Why Talking to Strangers Will Make You Happier With Nicholas Epley)
  3. Make time for gratitude every day - a gratitude list
  4. Reduce your mind wandering and become present - savouring and meditation
  5. Become wealthy in TIME, not in MONEY (E.G. time affluence) - We're better giving ourselves a little time off and investing in our free time rather than in money.

Sign up for Laurie's The Science of Well-Being course.

And that's a wrap people.

This year's Nudgestock2020 Festival was a FREE digital event that has raised £8,734 so far through donations. If you have missed the opportunity on the day, there is still time. Donate here

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