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Applying Behavioral Economics ("Nudge") Insights to Fire Safety

Question asked by hindsaldrich on Feb 23, 2016

A year or so ago I wrote an article in Fire Chief Magazine (US) about how the rather trendy (perhaps overly trendy) concept of behavioral economics, which is often labeled as "Nudge Theory", could be usefully applied to fire safety challenges to incentivize fire code compliance.  This was based upon the realization that people and organizations may not always demonstrate what we might consider "logical" decisions or "rational" behavior because of other factors like, habit, convenience, or time.  Creating subtle "nudges" to change behavior has been used in every discipline from school nutrition to tax collection to change the incentive structure to encourage or reward "good" choices while making "poor" choices slightly more difficult or costly.   Importantly, people are still free to make "bad choices"; so the child can still serve themselves the sugary sweet, but they may have less options and have to reach past the more readily accessible and more plentiful healthy options.   Has anyone explored, adopted, or heard about strategies to adopt behavioral economics to fire code compliance?  Or, has anyone considered how we might change the incentive structure, of say emergency evacuations/egress, to encourage occupants to demonstrate safer egress choices/behaviors?  


Matt Hinds-Aldrich, PhD