Fear is the most powerful of emotions and, as emotions are stronger than thoughts, fear can overpower the clearest of minds. We shouldn’t feel bad about being frightened. From an evolutionary perspective, it is key to our survival, it protects us from danger. And that is precisely what makes fear one of the most powerful tools in behavioural psychology.
Britain has been a world leader in behavioural insights since David Cameron set up the “nudge unit”. We now export behavioural psychology to governments and corporations around the world. The Government has used behavioural psychology to influence behaviour and encourage compliance during the Covid-19 epidemic. But has the nudge become a shove?