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

Making a Difference: Behavioral Insights and Public Policy

In a blog adapted from Samantha Power’s keynote address at the launch of UN Behavioral Sciences Week 2021, the USAID Administrator describes how behavioral insights are impacting international development and argues that behavioral science should play a greater role as organizations like USAID develop their programming. To make progress, she says, policymakers have to understand human behavior, not on the basis of intuitions, but using new findings and concrete data. We must learn how the people we hope to serve act (or do not act) in response to everyday challenges. And rather than making assumptions or applying what works in one culture to another, we need to gather evidence and data from the specific communities in which we serve … More Making a Difference: Behavioral Insights and Public Policy

Complex Problems need Complex Science

Many of today’s most ambitious policy goals involve complex systems. The ‘behavioural revolution’ in public policy means that behavioural science is playing a big role in endeavours to achieve these goals. The interplay of behavioral science and complex systems, however, warrants enhanced consideration. In this blog Katelyn Stenger makes the case for collaboration between behavioural science and complex systems science. … More Complex Problems need Complex Science

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. https://today.duke.edu/2014/11/mediasolutions   … 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

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?

War & Altruism

People in Europe responded quickly to the invasion of Ukraine with an unusually warm welcome to refugees and direct generosity in support. In stark contrast to the response to previous crises. Tony Hockley argues that this dichotomy stems from the deep-rooted human instinct for reciprocity within groups, with strong benefits but also a “dark side”. Much of the response has been in individual action, which some argue detracts from collective effort. But these actions may have beneficial spillovers, additional to the benefits of collective charity. The policy challenge will be to ensure that the motivation for action is sustained, and that the new-found generosity sets a powerful benchmark for future crises … More War & Altruism

To Nudge Plus or Nudge+ A dilemma

In the blog Sanchayan Banerjee & Peter John overcome nostalgia for “nudge plus” and herald the new dawn of Nudge+. Is this a more distinctive depiction of the research agenda encouraging people to reflect on the choices they face? Does it more successfully stress the link to the “nudge” yet transform it with its subliminal radicalism? The authors deliberate and decide. … More To Nudge Plus or Nudge+ A dilemma

Why Trust Matters

The history of civilisation is really the story of how we leaned to trust. In this blog Ben Ho considers research showing how fear brings people together and builds trust of outsiders. Through experiments in South Korea during the Covid pandemic it was possible to record feelings of fear and acceptance of outsiders. Those with the most fear recorded the highest increases in trust. How we respond to fear can give us hope for the future. … More Why Trust Matters

What’s in it for me?

Opponents are not monsters, but humans with legitimate needs. There is no ‘correct’ worldview warns Tom Prosser, and an understanding of the self-interest within all of them is important to confronting division, civilising politics, and making the most of our beseiged democratic institutions. There is no shame in self-interest. … More What’s in it for me?

Moments, not Minutes: The nature-wellbeing link

In “moments not minutes” Miles Richardson explains how research shows the value to wellbeing from connecting and engaging with nature in simple ways. Simply spending time in nature has limited impact, but actually noticing the good things in nature has sustained benefits. These finding should guide policy programmes and urban design, to help people notice nature around them. … More Moments, not Minutes: The nature-wellbeing link