Focus - Nudges into question

01 octobre 2016

In recent years, the concept of nudge has gained increasing political and cross-disciplinary academic interest. But what is a nudge? What are the theoretical and fundamental assumptions underlying the theory and practice of nudging? What are the implications of nudging? The team of the Audencia chair on “Financial Vulnerability” has launched a new project to investigate those questions.

Research in psychology and behavioral economics have shown that cognitive biases can prevent individuals from being rational when taking decisions. As a result, individuals make choices that are not always in their own self-interest. In other words, they do not behave as the rational “homo-oeconomicus” would suggest.

In this context, nudges are presented as an attempt to direct or help people to take the “right” decisions. The objective of nudging is to change behavior by redesigning a new “architecture of choice” which creates a new environment of decisions. Nudges are not legal norms; they respect freedom of choice by influencing people’s behavior without constraining them. Also known as “libertarian paternalism”, nudges are not coercive.

Since the beginning of the 2010s, nudges have become very popular especially in public policies. A number of characteristics explain this success: easy to implement, relatively inexpensive , and with potential rapid tangible results.  “Nudge units” have been established in several countries, the most well-known being the “Behavioral Insights Team” in the UK, and the “Nudge Squad” in the US. Nudges have been applied on a wide range of domains such as energy, environment, health, or education. They are also increasingly being developed in the private sector through for example “nudge marketing”.

In the project “Nudges into question”, the objective of the team is to examine and better understand the theoretical assumptions and the practical implications of nudges. We are especially interested in analyzing the way the theoretical and academic concept of nudging is being disseminated, translated and implemented by practitioners and policymakers.

In the context of this project, the team will organize a one-day seminar on the 7th of December 2016 to discuss and exchange about the theoretical perspective of nudges and the role of libertarian paternalism. Because the research team strongly believe that questioning can be enhanced through an interdisciplinary approach and that nudges ought to be addressed from multiple perspectives, they welcome contributions from all disciplines. You will find here the call for papers.

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