I’ve had folks tell me they don’t like incentives or some of the behavioral nudges being talked about when getting an audience to change and/or adopt new behaviors. They say it’s duplicitous, sneaky, underhanded, downright criminal in some cases. They talk about taking away free will (as if we actually had that to begin with, right?)

But incentives and nudges are never bad. No more than any other marketing technique is bad. No more than a scalpel is inherently bad. 

Would the tools a doctor uses to cure a disease be bad? Probably not. 

Would that same tool, used to create mayhem, be bad? Probably not. The person wielding it for sure. But the tool itself? Hardly.

If the incentive is nudging behaviors that aren’t in the best interest of people connected to the behaviors you’re looking to influence then the program architect is the problem. 

Go check the mirror.

The incentive is never bad. The program may be duplicitous but that is the designer’s issue.

Good craftsmen never blame their tools.