EAST Framework
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Let's start with a very quick primer on where the EAST Framework fits in. behavioural economics essentially demonstrated that humanity spends much of our time in 'Fast Thinking' or autopilot; Nudge theory took advantage of that to push us towards desirable behaviours; and the EAST Framework is a good place to get started with nudge design.

The EAST Framework helps to encourage, or Nudge, desired behaviours by making them Easy, Attractive, Social or Timely (EAST). 


Before I go deeper let me define Nudges, or even better, I'll let Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein define it from their book of the same name:

"Any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."


The founders of the EAST Framework, the Behavioral Insights Team (also known as the original ‘Nudge Unit’), recommend the following process to apply the EAST Framework

  • Define the outcome: identify the desired behaviour and consider how it might be measured and what outcome it would give you. 
  • Understand the context: Explore the environment and empathise with the people who you wish to impact. 
  • Build your intervention: Use the EAST Framework to apply behavioural insights.
  • Test, learn, adapt: Apply the intervention iteratively, with feedback loops to gain and apply learning. Ideally use split testing to compare the impact with a control group.


While the use of the EAST Framework to create Nudges should be considered more as a high-level design guide rather than an exact science, they can deliver great results with low expenditure. 

Use Nudges in product design, policy, architecture, UX design and consider how you might redesign your environment to nudge yourself. 


As described, the EAST Framework is based on our understanding of Fast & Slow Thinking and the resultant autopilot phenomena links this model to Habit Loops and even Systems vs Goals

Finally, an essential tool to help identify relevant points of Nudge interventions comes with combining the EAST Framework with Journey Mapping

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Actionable takeaways
  • Make it easy.

Consider how to make a desired behaviour the default option, reducing friction or simplifying the message. 

  • Make it attractive. 

Capture attention or design rewards around the desired behaviour, including lotteries. 

  • Make it social. 

Use social proof by demonstrating how peers are taking up the desired behaviour, leverage the power of networks, or encourage participants to make public commitments to their peers. 

  • Make it timely. 

Prompt people when they are most receptive, focus on immediate costs and benefits and help people plan their approach in particular how they take their first step forward. 

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In Practice

Organ donations.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of this approach lies in the variations between organ donations from country to country. A 2003 Science paper entitled Do Defaults Save Lives outlined how countries such as Austria, France and Hungary have over 99% uptake of organ donations while Denmark has just over 4% and Germany 12%. The difference is whether they need to opt-in or opt-out of organ donation (which is easiest).


Nudges and the EAST Framework aim to work in complex systems and have shown common challenges in their ability to be repeated in other contexts. In other words, there is some criticism about the level of transferability and consistency that these nudges will impact on a given, complex situation. 

Defenders of the approach argue that’s why they emphasise experimentation and iteration to identify what works in any specific context, and that such nudges are generally extremely cost-effective so are worth exploring.

Build your latticework
This model will help you to:

The EAST framework is a practical application of nudge theory which itself is the practical side of behavioral economics. 

Use the following examples of connected and complementary models to weave the EAST framework into your broader latticework of mental models. Alternatively, discover your own connections by exploring the category list above. 

Connected models: 

  • Fast and slow thinking: as a fundamental model behind behavioural economics that explains why nudges are possible.
  • Design thinking: as one of the methods to incorporate into application of the EAST framework. 
  • Split or A/B testing: to identify the impact of interventions. 

Complementary models: 

  • 5 Whys: as a way of exploring the causal factors behind current behavior. 
  • The SCARF model: to understand current behaviour.
  • Impact effort grid: to prioritise potential interventions. 
  • Chain reactions: consider the follow on impacts from an intervention. 
  • Empathy map: to better understand an audience group.
  • Habit loop: another way to take advantage of our inherent ‘automatic pilot’.
Origins & Resources

The EAST Framework was developed by the UK's Behavioural Insights Team, also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’. The team has grown from a handful of people in the UK and now works globally, find out more about their work and services at their informative website here. Also, view their excellent 2015 guide to the EAST Framework here

In terms of Nudges more generally, find out more about the work by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein and their seminal book on the topic: Nudge.  

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