Steering for Health

A wealth of insights are now available from behavioural science to guide health policy. In this blog the authors of a new book on “steering for health” draw on these to guide readers through the options now available to incentive health-related behaviours in real-world contexts. In doing so they bring together literature from health economics and many other disciplines with global evidence and case studies. Written during the pandemic the book also draws on this unprecedented experience and the extensive use of behavioural public policy in tackling the challenge of Covid-19. … More Steering for Health

Scaling up flying less

This blog post discusses strategic debates within the academic flying less movement: a loosely coordinated group of scholars that aim to reduce the role of aviation in the research sector. This movement draws our attention to a range of critiques about scale and efficacy when it comes to forwarding new, climate-informed behavioral norms. In this case, the debate often begins and ends with a discussion of the role of individuals taking spirited, and somewhat symbolic, stands against air travel. However, the scalar thinking of the movement proves to be more complicated than this critique of individual action presumes. We discuss how individual and collective actions relate to environmental politics and policy, and encourage an all-of-the-above approach to climate action. … More Scaling up flying less

Memory Bias and Social Networks

Social networks matter to careers and other life chances. Presenting at conferences is an opportunity for new network benefits. What if some presenters, however, are simply remembered less, not because of what they present, but because of their gender or race? Is there systematic bias in memory? In. this blog Michèle Belot and Marina Schröder report on two experiments on memory bias … More Memory Bias and Social Networks

Did you miss the gorilla? Choice architecture is not the solution to inequality

Nudges to make tax credit claims easier as an anti-poverty tactic just shift attention from the gorilla. The promotion of policies based on tweaking choice architecture risks becoming a new ‘trickle down’ mantra, for the sake of very marginal gains. Tania Burchardt responds to the article in the October 2022 issue of the journal by Kendra Tully “Odd bedfellows: How choice architecture can enhance autonomy and mitigate inequality” … More Did you miss the gorilla? Choice architecture is not the solution to inequality

Meta-Nudging: Putting collective momentum into behaviour change

What happens when a behavioural nudge is removed? How can the momentum be maintained? Is it a “one and done” situation or will behaviour revert? Eugen Dimant, and Shaul Shalvi argue for “meta-nudging” – tapping into influencers in existing social contexts to delegate the policing of new norms. In situations where dishonesty can be individually beneficial but collectively harmful then nudging influencers could play an important part in successful change. The meta-nudge could be a useful complement to “classic” nudge … More Meta-Nudging: Putting collective momentum into behaviour change

Social Contact: A human approach to mental illness stigma

Behavioural science has shown the importance of considering social context for policy design. The context of mental illness is often that stigma and norms stand in the way of engagement, treatment and recovery. “It’s OK to not be OK” public information can only go so far in tackling this. Research suggests that direct, intentional social contact between those with and without mental illness should be a focus for further progress in tackling this global challenge to wellbeing. In this blog the authors explain the evidence in favour of “social contact” as a targeted, behavioural approach to breaking the stigma of mental illness … More Social Contact: A human approach to mental illness stigma

Sustainable Hedonism: Not an oxymoron

In this blog Orsolya Lelkes explains Sustainable Hedonism as a strategy for the pursuit of happiness, that does not harm oneself, others, or the planet. Sustainable hedonism implies an increase in consumption for those with unmet basic needs, and a decrease in consumption for others. We can become better hedonists, assisted by public policies to ensure that basic needs are met and all are afforded the opportunity to live a good life … More Sustainable Hedonism: Not an oxymoron

Motivation Laundering

Policy makers frequently reward people for behaviour that is good for them or for society. In the absence of these incentives these good behaviours might make people feel proud, signalling to themselves and others that they genuinely care about bettering themselves and the world. But what happens to these feelings if they’ve earned a financial reward for the behaviour, rather than completing it of their own initiative? This blog reports on two experiments revealing that people may be willing to forego promised rewards to retrospectively interpret their good behaviour as intrinsic: Motivation Laundering … More Motivation Laundering

Epicurean Nudging: Pleasure as a path to healthier eating

Pierre Chandon, L’Oreal Chaired Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Creativity, INSEAD and Director of the INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab   I was about to give a talk at the Harvard School of Public Health when a distinguished nutritionist came to me and told me that he believed that the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, General Mills, … More Epicurean Nudging: Pleasure as a path to healthier eating

Solution Aversion

In a February 2018 LSE lecture on climate change Cass Sunstein highlighted a problem of “solution aversion”; the phenomenon that people deny problems when averse to solutions. Titled, ‘Solution aversion: On the relation between ideology and motivated disbelief,’ and written by then PhD student Troy Campbell and Professor Aaron Kay the paper became Duke University’s most viewed research press release when it was released in 2014. In this blog, Troy Campbell, now a professor at the University of Oregon, explains the problematic phenomena, the nuances, extensions, and the many potential solutions to solution aversion.   … More Solution Aversion

Much Ado About Nudging

By Richard H. Thaler – University of Chicago
When the editors of this journal asked me to write a commentary on a new paper by George Loewenstein and Nick Chater I did not expect that I would have anything useful to say. After all, I have known George for longer than we would care to admit, and we mostly share similar worldviews. Nonetheless, after reading their paper, and after trying and failing to sort things out in person, I found myself left with enough differences of opinion that it seemed worth writing something up. With one exception … More Much Ado About Nudging

A Science for Implementing Behavioural Science

Without deliberate investigation of the methods required to systematically improve the take-up of evidence in real-world settings, at scale, grounded in an understanding of scalability, the impact of behavioural public policy to shift behaviours where it truly matters is severely curtailed.

An implementation science for behavioural public policy is crucial if, as researchers, we want to effect real change. … More A Science for Implementing Behavioural Science

Behaviour Change through Choice Architecture: Where do we stand?

What does a decade of attention to Choice Architecture in policy tell us about the effectiveness of interventions? Are some types of intervention more effective than others? Are choice architecture interventions more effective in some behavioural domains than others? In this blog the authors of a recent meta-analysis of the behavioural public policy literature covering past interventions reflect on their findings looking at the variations in effects and on publication bias in the choice architecture literature. They argue that regardless of absolute effect sizes, which need to be treated with some caution, the meta-analysis may be useful to guide policymakers in choices between types of interventions. … More Behaviour Change through Choice Architecture: Where do we stand?