Health nudge: discourage rounds

Feb 23, 2012 by

Health nudge: discourage rounds

A BBC article recently featured 10 radical solutions to binge drinking. One of them originates from the nudge approach: discourage rounds. This excerpt is from the BBC article, but why not go and read it all.

“Buying rounds can create a social pressure to keep buying drinks because it’s your turn. Last year the Sun reported that Prof Richard Thaler, an adviser to David Cameron on “nudge” – a form of behavioural economics, said buying rounds makes people drink more. He recommended that large groups set up a tab to be split at the end of an evening’s drinking.

However bizarre, the idea of forbidding rounds is not new. During World War I, buying rounds – “treating” as it was known – was banned after fears that the war effort was being damaged by drunkenness.

Misell says it would be impractical to institute such a ban. But he supports the idea of improving public awareness on the perils of rounds. “My experience of rounds on a night out is that you very easily drink more than intended. My one piece of advice is – don’t drink in rounds.”

This idea reminds me of several interesting observations made by Joe Moran in a chapter on pubs in one of the best books I’ve ever read: Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life From Breakfast to Bedtime.

I think I’ll open it once again, and see if it makes for some interesting posts.

Picture credit: Nicholas Tarling

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