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Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 439–453 | Cite as

Public Views on Policies Involving Nudges

  • William Hagman
  • David Andersson
  • Daniel Västfjäll
  • Gustav Tinghög
Article

Abstract

When should nudging be deemed as permissible and when should it be deemed as intrusive to individuals’ freedom of choice? Should all types of nudges be judged the same? To date the debate concerning these issues has largely proceeded without much input from the general public. The main objective of this study is to elicit public views on the use of nudges in policy. In particular we investigate attitudes toward two broad categories of nudges that we label pro-self (i.e. focusing on private welfare) and pro-social (i.e. focusing on social welfare) nudges. In addition we explore how individual differences in thinking and feeling influence attitudes toward nudges. General population samples in Sweden and the United States (n = 952) were presented with vignettes describing nudge-policies and rated acceptability and intrusiveness on freedom of choice. To test for individual differences, measures on cultural cognition and analytical thinking were included. Results show that the level of acceptance toward nudge-policies was generally high in both countries, but were slightly higher among Swedes than Americans. Somewhat paradoxically a majority of the respondents also perceived the presented nudge-policies as intrusive to freedom of choice. Nudge-polices classified as pro-social had a significantly lower acceptance rate compared to pro-self nudges (p < .0001). Individuals with a more individualistic worldview were less likely to perceive nudges as acceptable, while individuals more prone to analytical thinking were less likely to perceive nudges as intrusive to freedom of choice. To conclude, our findings suggest that the notion of “one-nudge- fits-all” is not tenable. Recognizing this is an important aspect both for successfully implementing nudges as well as nuancing nudge theory.

Keywords

Analytic Thinking Irrational Behavior Analytical Thinking Retirement Saving Choice Architecture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Paul Slovic, Lina Koppel and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on a previous version of the manuscript. Financial support by the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation and the Swedish Research Council (VR) is gratefully acknowledged

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Hagman
    • 1
  • David Andersson
    • 2
  • Daniel Västfjäll
    • 1
    • 3
  • Gustav Tinghög
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Sciences and LearningLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Division of Economics, Department of Management and EngineeringLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Decision ResearchEugeneUSA
  4. 4.The National Center for Priority Setting in Health Care, Department of Medical and Health SciencesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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