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Behavioral Insights All Over the World? Public Attitudes Toward Nudging in a Multi-Country Study

31 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2017 Last revised: 4 May 2017

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Lucia A. Reisch

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication; Zeppelin University CCMP - Center for Consumers Markets Politics

Julius Rauber

Zeppelin University

Date Written: February 21, 2017

Abstract

Nudges are choice-preserving interventions that steer people’s behaviour in specific directions while allowing people to go their own way. Some nudges have been controversial, because they are seen as objectionably paternalistic. This study reports on nationally representative surveys in eight diverse countries, investigating how people actually think about nudges and nudging. The study covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea. Generally, we find strong majority support for nudges in all countries, with the important exception of Japan, and with spectacularly high approval rates in China and South Korea. We connect the findings here to earlier studies involving the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, France, Germany, and Hungary. The largest conclusion is that while citizens generally approve of health and safety nudges, the nations of the world appear to fall into three distinct categories: (1) a group of nations, mostly liberal democracies, where strong majorities approve of nudges whenever they (a) are seen to fit with the interests and values of most citizens and (b) do not have illicit purposes; (2) a group of nations where overwhelming majorities approve of nearly all nudges; and (3) a group of nations with markedly lower approval ratings for nudges. We offer some speculations about the relationship between approval rates and trust.

Keywords: nudges; public approval; behavioural insights; regulation

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R. and Reisch, Lucia A. and Rauber, Julius, Behavioral Insights All Over the World? Public Attitudes Toward Nudging in a Multi-Country Study (February 21, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2921217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2921217

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lucia A. Reisch

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Zeppelin University CCMP - Center for Consumers Markets Politics ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

Julius Rauber

Zeppelin University ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

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