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4 Eur. J. Risk Reg. 3 (2013)
Nudge and the Manipulation of Choice: A Framework for the Responsible Use of the Nudge Approach to Behaviour Change in Public Policy

handle is hein.journals/ejrr2013 and id is 9 raw text is: Nudge and the Manipulation of Choice |  3

Nudge and the Manipulation of Choice
A Framework for the Responsible Use of the Nudge Approach
to Behaviour Change in Public Policy
Pelle Guldborg Hansen* and Andreas Maaloe Jespersen**
In Nudge (2008) Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein suggested that public policy-makers
arrange decision-making contexts in ways to promote behaviour change in the interest of
individual citizens as well as that of society. However, in the public sphere and Academia
alike widespread discussions have appeared concerning the public acceptability of nudge-
based behavioural policy. Thaler and Sunstein's own position is that the anti-nudge posi-
tion is a literal non-starter, because citizens are always influenced by the decision making
context anyway, and nudging is liberty preserving and acceptable if guided by Libertarian
Paternalism and Rawls' publicity principle. A persistent and central tenet in the criticism
disputing the acceptability of the approach is that nudging works by manipulating citizens'
choices. In this paper, we argue that both lines of argumentation are seriously flawed. We
show how the anti-nudge position is not a literal non-starter due to the responsibilities that
accrue on policy-makers by the intentional intervention in citizens' life, how nudging is
not essentially liberty preserving and why the approach is not necessarily acceptable even
if satisfying Rawls' publicity principle. We then use the psychological dual process theory
underlying the approach as well as an epistemic transparency criterion identified by Thaler
and Sunstein themselves to show that nudging is not necessarily about manipulation', nor
necessarily about influencing choice The result is a framework identifying four types of
nudges that may be used to provide a central component for more nuanced normative con-
siderations as well as a basis for policy recommendations.

I. Introduction
In the last three decades, advances in behavioural
economics and psychology have revealed how our
decision-making and behaviour are systematically
biased by the interplay of psychological with what
* Director of The Initiative for Science, Society & Policy (ISSP); In-
stitute for Marketing & Management, University of Southern Den-
** The Initiative for Science, Society & Policy (ISSP).
The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers at EJRR
as wellas Prof. Robert Sugden (UEA), Prof. Bent Creve (RUC) and
John Parkinson (Bangor University) and colleagues from the Insti-
tute for Marketing and Management (SDU) who all have provided
helpful comments and question.

ought to be, from the perspective of rationality, ir-
relevant features of the decision-making context.
In general, these behavioural insights teach us how
decision-making contexts may systematically lead
us to fail in acting on our well-informed intentions
or achieve our preferred ends. In the area of public
policy-making, particularly, such advances teach us
how neglecting these insights may be responsible for
failures of public policy to reach intended effects, and
why paying more attention to them seems likely to
provide a key to dealing effectively with important
societal challenges such as global-warming, obesity
epidemics, and poor economic decision-making.
The seminal book that brought the idea to a
broader audience was Nudge: Improving Decisions

EJRR 1|2013

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