Nudge this:
It turns out that whether what you offer is accepted depends a lot on how it is presented.  Does anybody know which is better, the one knee proposal or the two knee?  Do people even propose any longer? 

They did a study in France.  Calling a course “geometry” meant that the boys did better.  Calling the same course “drawing” meant that the girls did as well or better.  (Free Exchange, Nudge Nudge, Think Think ECONOMIST vol. 402 no. 8777 March 24, 2012 page 78)

There are other ways to load a message, some messages are more “loadable” than others, and the French appear less willing to be pushed around than the English. 

Of course with regards to the government subtle persuasion is a two ended stick.  It lets the government accomplish its task better.  In England it was found that pension plans had been on offer and a certain number had requested them.  The government thought it would be a jolly good thing for more people to apply for the plan and save for retirement.  So they changed the policy of default.  Instead of being out of the plan if you did nothing they put you into the plan unless you made a deliberate move to avoid it.  That resulted in more retirement savings.  But the day may come when what the government wants you to think and do is ill advised or even deliberately contrary to your own interest.  At that point subtle persuasion becomes a misused tool.

But after all, it is merely another tool and any tool can be abused.

The relevance to fertility is less clear.  I have no agenda.  I don’t much mind what you do.  As far as reproductive choices the ladies have consistently over the decades voted me out of the gene pool so I have nothing more to lose in that regard.  If I took the position, “We are all dead unless more of you marry third cousins or close to that,” then I would be able to kick myself for having presented my suggestion wrong. 

But I want people to be free to choose.  And people cannot be free until they have at least some inkling of what the results of their choices are likely to be.  And they don’t.  That’s what I’m trying to fix.  I cannot think of another kind of nudge except saying what I mean.  However I plan to return to the subject of persuasion quite soon.

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