Nudging Test-Takers to be Their Most Honest Selves

Behavioral design can be used to encourage individuals to drive the speed limit, exercise, and even follow test security policies. In this article, Dr. Cynthia G. Parshall and Dr. John Fremer suggest practical methods for using behavior “nudges” to encourage ethical behavior in test-takers.

When we want to influence someone’s behavior, if we use the right technique—a nudge—then sometimes a small action can have a big effect. Nudging is part of the new field of behavioral design, based in extensive research into what actually affects a person’s behaviors. The evidence shows, time and time again, that human beings are far less rational than we think, and are heavily influenced by small cues around us. These small environmental effects can help people carry out their true goals, or they can lead people astray. With behavioral design, we can investigate an environment and then implement the right kind of cues to help people take actions that will serve them and society well.

Well-designed behavioral nudges have effectively helped people save more for retirement, exercise more consistently, develop better study habits, and take other valuable actions. In assessment programs, we can use behavioral design to…

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