Creating Value Through Behavioural Insights

A wealth of behavioural research demonstrates how individuals can be nudged to perform a desired behaviour. Behavioural economics has become more than a buzzword, and the 2017 Nobel prize for economics going to Richard Thaler, one of the big contributors to “nudge” theory, confirms this traction.

But do these insights also help in practice? Yes, they do! One of the most famous successes of the “nudge principle” is in organ donation: an “opt out” policy for organ donations (where it is presumed that people wish to donate body parts unless they state otherwise) leads to a significant increase in organ donations.


An interactive session on Behavioural Screening during the UMIO Insights Event on July 2nd demonstrated how “nudging” boosts desired behaviours of consumers, clients, and employees. The session was hosted by Thomas Post (Assistant Professor of Finance at Maastricht University) who has researched a wide range of behavioural finance topics, and Pieter Verhallen, PhD researcher at the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Maastricht University. In his research, he looks at how individuals can be nudged to make better financial decisions.

After some background on Behavioural Screening, three teams of participants were set to work on a real life use case “saving through gamification”. Numerous apps have emerged in recent years that either gamify the process of saving (turning elements of saving into a game, such as providing rewards at milestones), or using the addictive nature of gaming itself to drive saving behaviour (“nudging” gamers to deposit money into their savings account as part of the gaming experience).

The very nature of these apps is already founded on behavioural economics, but the question remained: can we do more? For this, the participants zoomed into one particular app design. The use-case challenge: apply a given set of behavioural principles to reduce the bottlenecks and increase the effectiveness of the app. After some lively discussions in the teams, it was striking how fast they arrived at practical improvements in the design, to influence the behaviour of increasing savings.


The teaser concluded with a quick online poll among the participants: the majority thought it likely that in the future they would use Behavioural Screening in their professional setting. A proof of concept indeed! This outcome was no surprise for Pieter Verhallen: ”Behavioural Screening is easily implemented and clearly delivers on its promise of small changes leading to substantial results, fast implementation and many quick wins. Often it is a win-win for business and researchers, as valuable data is shared to advance academic research. In the US, we see a lot of demand from businesses. In Europe, governments have been the early adopters. Therefore, we see a lot of potential in developing research-business collaboration in this field. From the business side it does not require big investments and there is a fast turnaround“.


Do your customers need a nudge? Contact Gordon Miesen – Manager Business Development & Client Relations – for more info on UMIO’s customised programmes in this field of expertise.