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Misconceptions About Nudges

13 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

Cass R. Sunstein

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

Date Written: September 6, 2017

Abstract

Some people believe that nudges are an insult to human agency; that nudges are based on excessive trust in government; that nudges are covert; that nudges are manipulative; that nudges exploit behavioral biases; that nudges depend on a belief that human beings are irrational; and that nudges work only at the margins and cannot accomplish much. These are misconceptions. Nudges always respect, and often promote, human agency; because nudges insist on preserving freedom of choice, they do not put excessive trust in government; nudges are generally transparent rather than covert or forms of manipulation; many nudges are educative, and even when they are not, they tend to make life simpler and more navigable; and some nudges have quite large impacts.

Keywords: nudges, behavioral economic, default rules, manipulation

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Misconceptions About Nudges (September 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3033101

Cass 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

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