Ethics toolkit for behavioural designers


A strong ethical compass is necessary in behaviour change economics. In this guide, we’ll explain how we nudge for good at ThinkPlace.

From a company automatically enrolling employees into a pension plan, to a hotel telling guests that ‘most other guests use their towel more than once’, to a country making organ donation an opt-out scenario, behavioural nudges are at work everywhere.

In behavioural economics, nudge theory is the method of guiding individuals towards positive or beneficial behaviours, without restricting their freedom of choice. A person can opt out of their company’s pension plan, they can choose to only use their towel once in a hotel, and they can decide not to be an organ donor. But with a well-executed behavioural nudge subtly guiding their decision, people are more likely to make a choice that aligns with the behavioural designer’s cause.

The potential impact of nudging on individuals and society is profound. Although nudges should and can be used for good, they aren’t always. As designers, we can shape behaviours, and with this capacity comes significant responsibility.

When using nudge theory to design for positive change, we must ensure we don’t manipulate, discriminate, or overstep. So, we designed a go-to guide for nudging ethically.

In this toolkit, you’ll find a set of general guidelines that inform the ethical application of behavioural science. It includes:

  • Six ethical nudge principles to use in behavioural design
  • A risk-based approach to interventions and nudges
  • Risk treatment approaches
  • A five-step behavioural design process
  • An ethics checklist, for you to use in your own behavioural designs

To access the guide, click the download link below. As always, human-centred design is centred around collaboration. We’d love to hear from you with any insights, ideas, or feedback you’d like to share. Simply email us at

Download the toolkit here