A reader spots a nudge at his house party

Reader Zach Savage of New York hosted a party with his roommate a few nights ago. “I came across a powerful nudge,” he writes.

At the party, my roommate and I set out six bottles of wine on a table. The wine bottles were still corked, so we put a corkscrew next to the bottles.  We also offered other drinks – beer, eggnog, and cider. After the party had been going on for about 30 minutes, I noticed that our guests were drinking the beer, cider, and eggnog very quickly, but nobody was drinking the wine. I thought people might need a little nudge to induce them to drink the wine, so I opened one of the six bottles. Within about 10 minutes, that bottle was gone. However, the other 5 bottles were still untouched. I opened another bottle, and again, that entire bottle was consumed within about 10 minutes, but nobody had touched the other four bottles. I then opened the four remaining bottles, and by the end of the party, they were all gone.

It was very clear that what determined whether someone drank a particular bottle of wine was not whether they liked the type of wine in the bottle, but whether or not the bottle was open.

Just where were the oenophiles at this fine party?

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2 Responses to “A reader spots a nudge at his house party”

  1. nycpeoplewatcher Says:

    I wonder if guests were reluctant to open the bottles because they were lazy or because they were afraid they’d screw it up. Either way, this is a good incentive for winemakers to develop less intimidating packaging!

  2. tokyobling Says:

    I think it is a simple example of priorities. If your priority is to socialize at a nice party you are not going to spend time corking up wine bottles and risking ugly splotches on your latest suit, you’re rather more inclined to take the choice that is more beneficial to your desired result, i.e. the quick drinks that keeps your jacket clean and let’s you get back to chatting as soon as possible. This would only be a nudge if the host was trying to steer his guests away from drinking the red wine.

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