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'Self-nudging' can help people have better self-control

Experts say this behavioral technique could help consumers during quarantine

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Photo (c) HAKINMHAN - Getty Images
While recent studies have encouraged consumers to stick to a workout routine while home during quarantine, it can be difficult to stick to a routine of any kind or enforce healthy habits. 

Now, researchers have found that consumers can train themselves to have better self-control by adopting a technique known as self-nudging. The process involves evaluating one’s environment and adjusting certain factors to ensure that things are set up to produce the best outcomes. 

“Various needs and desires are always competing for attention in our minds and bodies,” said researcher Samuli Reijula. “Self-nuding can help us to negotiate these internal conflicts. It is a practical tool that can enhance self-understanding.” 

Developing better habits

The researchers explained that self-nudging can be used for a variety of different behaviors, including making healthier eating choices, using social media less, or exercising more. 

The first step is awareness. Consumers need to know what their weaknesses are or what behavior they’re trying to alter before thinking about trying to tackle them. With that information, they can go about altering their environment to make self-control possible. 

The researchers’ work revealed four keys to accomplishing self-nudging: reducing accessibility, framing, social pressure and self-commitments, and reminders and prompts. 

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Photo (c) HAKINMHAN - Getty Images
Reducing accessibility involves making it harder to do certain things, like putting junk food out of reach or sight. Framing requires consumers to reset their traditional way of thinking. For example, limiting time on social media doesn’t have to be seen as cutting off communication; instead, it can be viewed as a way to personally reset and take a break from the constant updates. 

Making promises with friends or loved ones can help consumers feel accountable to their desired behavior instead of just trying to go it alone. Similarly, setting reminders (either via a smartphone or a handwritten note) can serve as a persistent visual cue that can be helpful in promoting self-control. 

With these simple self-nudges, consumers can see great results in their day-to-day routines both during quarantine and beyond. 

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