A Nudge Photo Contest



What is this photo about? It came to me courtesy of Jan Chipchase, a design guru who spoke at a great meeting last week on how to help microfinance meet the needs of clients better. As an aside, the most poignant question posed at this meeting of donors, investors, policymakers and researchers on microfinance: Why oh why did it take so long for “client needs” to be the topic of conversation? And the most important question posed: How can we go beyond understanding something about client behavior and choices and translate that knowledge to scalable policies for banking to the poor?

Anyhow, I digress, back to the contest. This is a photo of a nudge. The symbols on the wall are of a shrine. There is no shrine behind those walls. Why is there a symbol of a shrine on this wall? In the spirit of holiday charitable giving, I will give away two copies of More Than Good Intentions — one to the first person to answer correctly, and a second to a randomly chosen person from amongst those who get the right answer.

Find out who won here.


to prevent noise and graffiti

Andreas Moser

Is it supposed to prevent graffiti?


To prevent people from urinating on the wall!


Chicken dinner.

Keivan Z

It's to prevent drunks from peeing on the wall. Truly clever.


My guess is to prevent graffiti, posters, spitters and urinators from using that wall. I've seen similar diety tiles on walls of buildings in India.


To keep people from urinating on the wall?


Prevents public urination

Robert Roskam

I'm going to guess it's to prevent graffiti.


To keep people from jumping the wall.

Dan Halperin

Seems to be to prevent graffiti or other vandalism such as posters. You can see traces of what look like posters that were taken down.

I guess the culture is that vandals won't desecrate or dishonor religious symbols? Seems to be working!

Major Minor

It's a place where people can park their bikes safely with no fear of them being stolen?


Yup, to prevent urinating on the wall. Also used to keep folks from dumping garbage.

Sam McNerney

When there is an opportunity to cheat a small percentage always will. However, an experiment by Dan Ariely demonstrated that moral reminders (i.e., reading the Ten Commandments) influences people to cheat less when there is an opportunity. This photo looks like "moral nudge," that is, the symbol is there to decrease the amount of potential bike thefts.

(Mazar, N., Amir, O., & Ariely, D. (2008). The Dishonesty of Honest People: A Theory of Self-Concept Maintenance Journal of Marketing Research, 45 (6), 633-644 DOI: 10.1509/jmkr.45.6.633)


Apparently, It means "bicycle or moped parking zone".

Luke Schnoebelen

This is painted outside shrines/temples and is a Japanese technique to deter public urination.


To prevent urination on the walls.


Aim of this symbols is to scare off potential thieves.

Ron Goswami

This is very common in India. Pictures of God are drawn in public places where people spit or pee or throw garbages. The drawing of shrines is to prevent people from peeing or from spitting.


Clearly this is the local picknick place, just bring your own..