Nudging: A Very Short Guide

This very short guide to nudging is written by Cass R. Sunstein, who is seen as one of the founders of the concept, nudging. The guide offers a general introduction to the idea of nudging along with a list of ten of the most important “nudges.” It also provides a short discussion of the question whether to create some kind of separate “behavioral insights unit,” capable of conducting its own research, or instead to rely on existing institutions.

I. Liberty-Preserving Approaches
Some policies take the form of mandates and bans. For example, the criminal law forbids theft and assault. Other policies take the form of economic incentives (including disincentives), such as subsidies for renewable fuels, fees for engaging in certain activities, or taxes on gasoline and tobacco products. Still other policies take the form of nudges – liberty-preserving approaches that steer people in particular directions, but that also allow them to go their own way. In recent years, both private and public institutions have shown mounting interest in the use of nudges, because they generally cost little and have the potential to promote economic and other goals (including public health).

In daily life,

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