It’s Not What You Nudge, It’s Who You Nudge: Communicating Evidence to Policymakers and the Public
23 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 26, 2018
The growth in applying behavioral insights toward addressing major policy challenges has only expanded in recent years. A common tool in this movement has been the use of reframing salient pieces of information, sometimes using visual messaging, as institutions seek to elicit socially desirable behaviors. So far, most emphasis in these approaches has been on public impact of such tools and less so about the influence on policymakers themselves. This paper seeks to contribute to the literature on the use of evidence in policymaking by demonstrating two different applications on related but parallel contexts. In the first, we explore public attitudes toward refugees in the United Kingdom. In the second, we explore policymaker opinion on mental health programming in Lebanon, in the context of a national reform influenced heavily by the influx of refugees from Syria. Using similar surveying methods focused on salient messages framed in various ways, the two studies yielded substantially different results. In the general public, informative patterns emerged, such as greater influence of various frames on young people. However, policymakers largely rejected any involvement when being asked the simplified scenarios. Instead, we found that they were generally distrustful of being asked to make decisions based on such messages, eroding relationships between researchers and policymakers. We utilize these insights to propose further considerations to improve communication between behavioral researchers and decision-makers, presenting two case examples of small trials with policymakers and the general public.
Keywords: behavioral insights, disclosure, behavioral policy, mental health policy, public attitudes, refugees
JEL Classification: Z18, H41, I28, I31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation