Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

Assorted links

September 23, 2009

1) Has a Nudge blog reader ever used gmail’s “undo send” option? It’s a five second cooling off period after sending an email. Better act fast. (Hat tip: Adam Singer)

2) A former judge wants to see more ignition-interlock devices. (Hat tip: Devorah Segal)

3) What does the status quo bias have to do with Keeping Up with the Joneses? Hint: One man continued to get up and go to work after he got laid off. (Hat tip: Free Exchange)

4) The IMF profiles Daniel Kahneman, who recounts this fascinating story: (Hat tip: Amol Agrawal)

An early event in Nazi-occupied Paris that he remembers vividly left a lasting impression because of varied shades of meaning and implications about human nature. “It must have been late 1941 or early 1942. Jews were required to wear the Star of David and to obey a 6 p.m. curfew. I had gone to play with a Christian friend and had stayed too late. I turned my brown sweater inside out to walk the few blocks home. As I was walking down an empty street, I saw a German soldier approaching. He was wearing the black uniform that I had been told to fear more than others—the one worn by specially recruited SS soldiers. As I came closer to him, trying to walk fast, I noticed that he was looking at me intently. Then he beckoned me over, picked me up, and hugged me. I was terrified that he would notice the star inside my sweater. He was speaking to me with great emotion, in German. When he put me down, he opened his wallet, showed me a picture of a boy, and gave me some money. I went home more certain than ever that my mother was right: people were endlessly complicated and interesting.”

The nudging power of mixed nuts

May 29, 2009

Readers may be familiar with the humorous series of beer commercials that feature a pitchman touted as “the most interesting man in the world” – a man whose face and fictional life just so happen to bear a striking resemblance to Ernest Hemingway’s). In this spot, he expounds on the power of a favorite Nudge subject, the bowl of nuts.

St. Patrick’s Day Special: Pricing a pint of green ale

March 17, 2009

Our Chicago readers know that St. Patrick’s Day in the Windy City means dyeing the Chicago river green (this year, the City actually dyed the river on Saturday March 14th), which is a great excuse to break out the classic line from the movie The Fugitive: “If they can dye the river green today, why can’t they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?”

In the spirit of green dye and St. Patrick’s Day, Wayne Smith sends along an idea that he calls “Progressive Pricing for Drinking Holidays.” Smith argues that this proposal reduces binge drinking without “greatly penalizing” bar owners. We’ll let our bar-owning (or beer-drinking) readers decide.

Binge drinking is a big problem on St. Patrick’s Day in many areas, especially in college towns. The Nudge idea I propose is progressive pricing for alcoholic drinks on “Drinking” Holidays like St. Patty’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Halloween (or the last day of finals). The objective is to reduce the number of people who binge drink using price controls without greatly penalizing bar owners.

A hypothetical implementation of the nudge might work like this:

Typically, drink specials aren’t offered by bars on big selling days like these. The bars could start the Drinking Holiday by offering a special drink price, say a fluorescent-green-dyed beer for $2.50 rather than $3.50. As the day progresses and the cumulative amount people have had to drink increases, the price of the beer would increase on a regular schedule, say by $0.25 each hour. Assuming that the drinking day starts at 3pm (a stretch for some party-school towns), the price schedule would look like this:

Hour          Price
3:00 PM   $2.50
4:00 PM   $2.75
5:00 PM   $3.00
6:00 PM   $3.25
7:00 PM   $3.50
8:00 PM   $3.75
9:00 PM   $4.00
10:00 PM $4.25
11:00 PM  $4.50
12:00 AM $4.75
1:00 AM   $5.00
2:00 AM   $5.25

This allows for a five hour Happy Hour to draw in many customers, but more than doubles the price of beer by last call, thus nudging people away from buying more beer out at the bar.

There are some hitches with this idea. Foremost, is the question of whether bar patrons would notice the price increases if they are inebriated. Secondly, the price schedule would have to be implemented across the municipality to ensure that bars couldn’t take advantage of another bar’s price structuring. That is not to say that bars would have to engage in price fixing, rather they would have to increase prices every hour, prices they would set on their own with the stipulation that they at least double the price of beer by closing time. Market forces should find a reasonable floor for prices. Losses from patrons refusing to buy more drinks at later hours will be offset by those who will pay double for a drink and the increased volume during early hours. Hopefully, these will be latecomers and not people who have spent 11 hours at the bar.

An anti-domestic violence beer mug nudge

August 20, 2008

From the Czech Republic.

The fine print says: “Men in Czech Republic consume the most beer in all of the Europe. Unfortunately, the beer changes many of them into aggressors upon arriving home. In order to stop this domestic alco-violence, we redesigned the trademark beer mugs of our client Bernard brewery to preventatively warn its beer drinkers to not lose control over their drinking.”

Will it work? Elle, phd is skeptical.

When a technological nudge meets a legal mandate

May 21, 2008

Old-fashioned readers of Wednesday’s paper version of the New York Times might have noticed a full page advertisement opposing in-car breathalyzers (in certain situations, anyway), which also go by the name ignition interlocks. The ad, paid for by the American Beverage Institute, is part of an long-running political fight between restaurateurs and drunk driving awareness groups like Mother’s Against Drunk Driving over whether to shove technological nudges into automobiles. Typically, the interlocks work by placing a small alcohol sensor unit on car’s dashboard, which drivers blow into before starting the car. The car cannot be started if the driver’s blood-alcohol-content level is above a certain preset level.

Continue reading the post here.

The fine print on serving alcohol at universities

May 15, 2008

Why do bars serve peanuts and pretzels? It is because they are cheap? No. It is because they are salty, and salty foods make you thirsty. (Read the abstract of a paper about women, salty food, and alcohol here.) At the University of Chicago there is a twist on this relationship between brackish finger food and alcohol. Student groups that want to hold events that serve alcohol must agree to guidelines that include the following restriction: “Adequate quantities of non-salty food must be served.”

The non-salty food requirement is not unique to Chicago. It is standard at U.S. universities (see Washington University, UPenn, and Texas A&M as examples.) How much an “adequate” amount of non-salty food is remains vague, but at the University of Kansas, the requirement is “two servings” of non-salty food for every person in attendance.


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