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Centre Master student Linda Lindström explains the idea of using nudging to influence behaviour and facilitate environmentally sustainable choices. News archive cover photo: A. Maslennikov/Azote
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Linda Lindström is a second year student in the Master's programme Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development at the Centre. For the past year she has been working on her thesis in a project together with Therese Lindahl, researcher at the Centre and at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics.
Linda's thesis research revolves around using "nudging" as a way of influencing consumer behaviour.
"Nudging is about designing the landscape of choice that a consumer is face with, in the field it’s called altering the choice architecture," Linda explains. "An example of a nudge is introducing smaller plate sizes in buffet lunch restaurants to decrease food waste. The customer still has the freedom of all-you-can-eat but the smaller plate size makes it so that fewer people end up serving themselves more-than-they-can-eat."
However nudging is not about regulations or bans, such as taxing or banning for example sugar or junk food.
In her study Linda is experimenting with different types of nudges together with a chain of grocery stores in Sweden to see how they can nudge customers to decrease their meat consumption, replacing meat with vegetarian and more sustainable choices.
Taking it to town
While finishing her thesis Linda is also starting up a company together with an behavioural economist, a psychologist and a designer.
"I really believe that these complex issues need to be addressed by teams made up of many different competences – complex issues can have complex solutions and together we stand a better chance of getting to the root of it," says Linda.
"My class in the Master's programme at the Centre is made up of people with many different backgrounds, and I have really come to appreciate the transdisciplinary way of working and exchanging experiences and knowledge."
The new company is called Beteendelabbet. It will work together with other businesses and municipalities to facilitate environmentally sustainable choices in different sectors.
"Most of us want to live sustainably," says Linda, "but we often make choices that counteract our values simply because they are the seemingly easier or default thing to do. Changing this default and facilitating other more sustainable choices without infringing on people's free choice has great potential in making a difference and we hope that we can be a part of that movement," she concludes.
Beteendelabbet will work with business and municipalities to facilitate environmentally sustainable choices. (photo: M. Kjellberg)