White House Creating ‘Nudge Squad’ To Shape Citizens’ Behavior

White House Creating 'Nudge Squad' To Shape Citizens' BehaviorThe federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com.

‘Tweaking behavior’

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

‘Extraordinarily succesfful’

Such policies — which encourage behavior subtly rather than outright require it — have come to be known as “nudges,” after an influential 2008 book titled “Nudge” by former Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler popularized the term.

The term “nudge” has already been associated with the new program, as one professor who received Shankar’s email forwarded it to others with the note:

“Anyone interested in working for the White House in a ‘nudge’ squad? The UK has one and it’s been extraordinarily successful.”

Do you think this “nudge” program is a good thing or a bad one? Feel free to discuss your thoughts with us regarding this issue!

Source: Fox News

Image: Weasel Zippers

Impact of Baby Boomers’ Retirement on Caregivers

Across the United States, adult children become caregivers for aging and chronically ill loved ones. With the first of the baby boomers turning 65 in 2011, the number of Americans entering retirement age is expected to nearly double by 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging.

As the country braces for the prospect of providing health care to roughly 72 million adults, the impact on caregivers is coming into focus. A study released last week found that Americans caring for aging and chronically ill relatives reported higher levels of stress, poorer health and a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors to escape and alleviate stress than the population at large.

Moreover, 55% of caregivers reported feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, according to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey, which was conducted online among 1,226 adults in the United States in August and September.

While emphasizing results among caregivers, the survey also found that 22% of Americans reported “extreme stress” and 39% said their stress had increased over the past year. That number becomes higher among caregivers, who were also more likely than the general population to report doing a poor job at managing and preventing stress, according to the survey’s findings.

The report emphasizes the public health implications of high stress levels, with caregivers reporting greater rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor  nutrition, obesity and depression. Regardless of the cause, stress often results from taking on too much and not knowing when to stop or ask for help.


Source: CNN

Image: Lifelines Academy & Network