The 2017 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences has been awarded to Richard Thaler. This is a prize for behavioral economics, for the importance of psychology in economic decision-making, and for “Nudge,” the famous bestseller Thaler co-authored with Nudge-it researcher Cass Sunstein from Harvard University.
Thaler and Sunstein’s “Nudge” idea, developed in several articles and then compiled in an easily accessible pop science book, calls for behaviourally based regulation to improve people’s health, wealth, and happiness. Today, “behavioural public policy” (as called today) is increasingly seen as an effective way of public policy making, not substituting but supporting existing policy tools to become more effective, efficient, and acceptable. The main idea is to help people make the decisions that they would make if they had full knowledge and oversight, and if they were fully self-controlled – which people are typically not!
Today, more than 200 governments use forms of “choice architecture” in designing better systems. Making the healthy choice the easy choice - using priming, framing and reminders to make the healthier options more salient. Simplifying these choices and making them attractive, social, and timely core instruments of behaviourally informed policy that has been applied to all policy areas, including public health and nutrition policy. As recently shown by Nudge-it researchers (Reisch, Sunstein & Gwozdz 2017), people in general tend to like nudges, and there seems to a marked overall approval of health nudges in many countries worldwide.
We are honoured that Cass Sunstein will speak at the Nudge-it “Policy-meets-Research Workshop” in Copenhagen in May 2018.
Lucia Reisch, CBS
Lucia A. Reisch, Cass R. Sunstein & Wencke Gwozdz (2017). Beyond carrots and sticks: Europeans support health nudges. Viewpoint article. Food Policy, 69, 1-10