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Nudge Behaviour

There are two things you should know about humans


1. We are an inherently lazy bunch
2. We are overly optimistic about almost everything


Both of these traits can be summed up in one simple action.

Filling the kettle.

The next few times you make a cup of tea, watch yourself.

What you will notice is that typically you will fill the kettle to roughly the same point, every single time you make a brew.

Whether you are making one cup or have been hideously caught in some epic tea round disaster. The same thing happens, you fill the kettle to the same level.

This is foolish for two reasons.

Firstly, if you are just making yourself a cup, you will waste a lot of water.

Secondly, by also boiling an excessive amount of water, you are also adding insult to injury by wasting inordinate sums of electricity.

If you were Richard Brewster, and instead of water it was money, you would be literally paying the New York Yankees to play the Hackensack Bulls in an unwinnable exhibition game and placing yourself as pitcher, such is the doubling down of our collective wastefulness when it comes to doing something as simple as boiling the kettle.

See what I mean?

As a species we are unbelievable.


It’s not like it is complicated to boil the right amount of water, but there are currently some deeply problematic issues when it comes to filling the kettle.

If you look at a kettle, you will see that typically the measuring device is on the outside. You know that clear strip that helps you judge how much to put in?

This is not impossible to use by any stretch but using it does require you to stop looking at the tap whilst the water is pouring in, which from experience often results in you soaking yourself as the water sprays 3ft in the opposite direction, usually straight at your face.

It’s not impossible, but as we are lazy and averse to face soakings, we rarely bother.

The human race has therefore now collectively discounted the provided measure of how much water to put in, and we therefore rely on our own flawed belief system.

Rarely has the human race been more wrong about anything than the inaccuracy you will find when people fill kettles.

Try this simple experiment of looking in the kettle as you fill it and guessing how much one cup is. (I bet you will go for roughly halfway.)

What will happen is that you wildly over estimate how much you need.

Not just a bit but by such crazy margins as up to 4 or even 5 times too much.

I like tea as much as the next person, but no-ones mug is that big.

This is classic ‘us’ behaviour. Human beings are just rubbish at judging stuff.

If you step on the scales you will strongly believe you weigh less than you do.

If you are driving you will under estimate how fast you are going.

You definitely won’t remember how much of that bar of Galaxy you had.

Step in Russell Hobbs.


This weekend I purchased a new kettle and I’ve got to take my hat off to the product designers.

Inside the new kettle, as I prepared to pour my usual 8 gallons of water, I found 3 small red plastic measuring levels. Each one adjusted to represent one more cup.

As I poured water from the tap to the first level, my brain was confounded by the piddling looking amount of water in the base of the kettle. “But surely that can’t be one cup? It looks like a thimble full?!”

I decided recklessly, to risk that horrifying (but rare) moment when you haven’t boiled enough and have to re-boil, in order to torture test this new fangled design feature.

As the water boiled (very quickly with so little in there), I steeled myself for the forthcoming re-boil, convinced that Russell Hobbs was mugging me off.

I poured.

The kettle spilled forth its steaming contents and indeed, my mug was full.

Humanity doesn’t need big projects, garden bridges and economic forums.

Humanity needs product designers from Russell Hobbs, to help us sort our shit out.

Tash Walker

Tash Walker

I founded this business not out of passion but out of curiosity. Marketing is dominated by opinion, the opinion of a few Vs. the life experiences of the many. I wanted to know, where the hell was real life in all of this? I do all of this because it is fascinating, because I was told you couldn’t and because I think it is the most important question we have to understand about our society today.

  • Eddie Stableford

    Excellent article – informative, fun and insightful too

    May 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm Reply

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