October 13, 2022

The architects of choice


How “nudges” by government can empower citizens without manipulating their preferences or exploiting their biases.

We're all familiar with the idea of “nudging”—using behavioral mechanisms to encourage people to make certain choices—popularized by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their bestselling 2008 book Nudge. This approach, also known as “libertarian paternalism,” goes beyond typical programs that simply provide information and incentives; nudges can range from automatic enrollment in a pension plan to flu-shot scheduling. In Nudging, Riccardo Viale explores the evolution of nudging and proposes new approaches that would empower citizens without manipulating them paternalistically. He shows that we can use the tools of the behavioral sciences without abandoning the principle of conscious decision-making.

A controversial approach.