Nudge Psychology and the Unemployed.

Nudge Psychology and the Unemployed.

A survey using a large questionnaire of 240 questions has been reduced to 48 questions by the Nudge Unit at number 10 Downing Street. The original design was by an American not-for-profit organisation, who at first objected to the way it was used by the Nudge Unit.

The purpose of this survey is to analyse the answers given by the unemployed, in an attempt to improve their chances of getting a job. by showing them evidence of their positive strengths. This has produced criticism of the Nudge Unit for creating a “nanny state”, which does not fit well current government ideology.

More seriously, the unemployed may have feared that this information, and it’s analysis might undermine their chances of future employment. This could lead to deliberate lying in the questionnaire. Whether this fear is well grounded or not, the Nudge Unit has created at least 5 pairs of questions; where the second of the pair checks on the truth of the first. So the nudge unit anticipated lying.

Here are just a few examples. What is striking is that all examples have the first sentence as the positive, and the second as negative; and always in that order. Also, the pairs are next to one another. The possibility of having the pairs further apart would have created a better check on lying.

I always finish what I start./ I get side-tracked when I work.
My life has a strong purpose. /I do not have a calling in life.
I always let bygones be bygones./ I always try to get even.

Secondly, there are 5 cases of questions where a positive answer might indicate a lack of interest in gaining employment. Despite these positive answers which I put to the following questions, an analysis of answers showed that on every count I was extremely suitable for employment. Here are a few examples:
I am easily bored.
I never go out of my way to visit museums.
I get side tracked when I work.
I mope a lot.

Despite agreeing with the “museums” question, one of the results of the analysis of my answers was as follows.

“You always loved school, reading, and museums”.

What this shows is that whatever negative characteristics I reveal, the Nudge Unit shows me to be a very good candidate. Presumably all answers will reveal positive, even positively exaggerated, results.
At the least, this brings into question the validity of this exercise. Beyond that concern, the exercise begins to look manipulative. Firstly, because there are sanctions if this exercise is not completed. Secondly, the exercise produces a “character”, which the unemployed person may, or may not, believe in.

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