Now Nudging is mainstream

 •  Filed under behavioral economics and psychology

White House: Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Annual Report

White House Announces New Steps to Improve Federal Programs by Leveraging Research Insights

The behavioral science approach to policy making: A conversation with David Brooks

David Brooks: In Praise of Small Miracles

How Small Changes Can Yield Big Results For The Government

Francesca Gino: Why the U.S. Government Is Embracing Behavioral Science

Cass Sunstein: Making Government Logical

Brookings Event: The power of the nudge: Policy lessons from behavioral economics

David Laibson starts at 54:20:


NYT Opinion: Conservatives like "nudges." Except when liberals do. And vice versa.

In one experiment, we presented participants of varying political persuasions with short descriptions of various behavioral policy nudges (e.g., designating enrollment in a program as a default). To explain how such policy tools could be applied, we illustrated them using either an example of a liberal policy priority (e.g., encouraging low-income individuals to enroll in food stamps programs for which they were legally eligible) or a conservative policy priority (e.g., encouraging the wealthy to take advantage of capital gains tax breaks they were legally eligible for). The participants were then asked to rate how ethical, manipulative and coercive they found the nudge to be, as a general policy approach.

We found that the illustrations — which were arbitrary examples, logically speaking — greatly influenced their evaluations. In almost every case, respondents on the left of the political spectrum supported nudges when they were illustrated with a liberal agenda but opposed them when they were illustrated with a conservative one; meanwhile, respondents on the political right exhibited the opposite pattern.

A continued concern is that behavioral interventions will have short-term effects:

Greg Ip reviews Phishing for Phools: Critics of Free Market Shouldn’t Overreach

Mr. Akerlof and Mr. Shiller are certainly right that businesses sometimes profit by selling things consumers don’t really want. But more often businesses, from Starbucks to Apple, succeed by figuring out what consumers want before consumers themselves know. And while some will always profit from deceit, there is a whole new crop of businesses, from TripAdvisor and Angie’s List to Yelp, trying to profit by calling them out.

Review in the The Economist: You have been warned

Interview with Robert Shiller