What do Germans really think about health-nudges?

Mathias Krisam* (Corresponding Author), Mona Maier* (Corresponding Author), Rebecca Janßen, Johannes Krisam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: In recent years, policymakers have increasingly used behaviourally informed policies, including 'nudges'. They have been implemented to produce desirable social outcomes such as healthier eating and physical activity. In Germany, a small research team at the Federal Chancellery acts as the central unit to promote the introduction of nudges in the design of public life. Despite this, the nudging concept itself as well as the understanding around it has not spread widely among German citizens. When reporting about the concept, German media is often very critical of the concept.

METHODS: Using a for age, sex and educational level nationally representative online survey with 1000 participants, we investigate whether German citizens know about the concept of nudging. We also explore if they approve of the theoretical concept as well as a list of seven specific interventions regarding healthy eating and physical activity. A particular focus is placed on whether the level of approval is dependent on the target group of the intervention, as well as different intervention-initiators.

RESULTS: We find that nearly 80% of the respondents have never heard of nudging. However when being provided with a definition, we find that a strong majority (90%) supports the concept of nudging as well as all the specific interventions. Acceptance rates are higher if interventions are targeted at the general population compared to only children. All initiators - statutory health insurers, the government, private companies, and independent experts - are accepted as nudge initiators.

CONCLUSION: Amongst Germans nudges are an accepted method to promote health behaviours. Policy makers from various fields in Germany should take that into account to improve future health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number821
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021

Data Availability Statement

Data can be assessed by an email to the corresponding authors.


  • Nudge
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Exercise
  • Germany
  • Health Policy
  • Humans


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