Community Participation: A Little Nudge And A Little Think

A new study says that sure, the carrot-on-a-stick method works to get citizens involved in their communities, but it doesn't always sustain that involvement over time, requiring the use of other techniques.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

A project done at two UK universities to examine what makes people participate in their communities found that while offering incentives yielded better results, this strategy did not always work as well over time. In one set of experiments, different "nudge" techniques, such as the promise of public recognition, were used to encourage people to act in ways that benefited their community. In other experiments, "think" techniques were substituted. In these, people were given information about a topic, the ability to discuss it, and then the opportunity to act.

What's the Big Idea?

In addition to applying different techniques, the researchers set up both online and face-to-face environments to see if these made a difference. They found that face-to-face interaction "offer[ed] [more of a] potential for a richer and more complex platform for discussion and participation." In their opinion, governments and public entities who seek more active citizen involvement should use a combination of nudge and think techniques, along with the opportunity for two-way feedback, to obtain the best results. 

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