How to start nudging people to drink less alcohol

Millions of pounds are spent each year to bombard us with information on the risks of alcohol. But do such campaigns work? Our research shows that some simple tweaks to how the message is delivered – by applying findings from behavioural science – could help government campaigns have a far bigger impact. And cost savings might even go some way to filling the £22 billion funding black hole the NHS finds itself in.

Excessive drinking is a big problem. Although between 2010 and 2013 household spending on alcoholic drinks in the UK fell by 5.7%, liver disease in those under 30 has more than doubled over the past 20 years with Alcohol Concern estimating that 1.2m people a year are admitted to hospital for alcohol-related problems.

The recent fall in spending on alcohol has been attributed to a rise in drinks taxes and the economic downturn, but that could be reversed with the recovery and the duty on drinks being dropped in 2014.


Ivo Vlaev
Professor of Behavioural Science