It’s Not Me, It’s You: Awareness of Being Nudged Results in Oppositional Changes in Self-Perceptions
Nudges, which have been offered as easy, effective, and relatively low-risk methods for influencing consumer behavior, have been widely embraced by governments and private industry alike. In recent years, the topic of nudges has gained increasing coverage in popular media, resulting in consumer knowledge of how they are used and why they are effective. In this research, we explore the impact of what we term nudge awareness, that is, consumers recognizing that their prior behavior may have been influenced by a nudge, and its downstream consequences to well-being. We hypothesize that consumers who learn they were nudged after making a choice will adjust their self-perceptions counter to the direction of the nudge. We predict that these changes to self-perception will then affect subsequent choices, such that individuals act consistently with their altered self-view due to a desire to maintain attitude-behavioral consistency. Finally, we predict that PSAs focused on nudge awareness can be used to help consumers adopt behaviors beneficial to consumers in contexts like food and health decision making and financial well-being.