Should Governments Invest More in Nudging?

Psychol Sci. 2017 Aug;28(8):1041-1055. doi: 10.1177/0956797617702501. Epub 2017 Jun 5.


Governments are increasingly adopting behavioral science techniques for changing individual behavior in pursuit of policy objectives. The types of "nudge" interventions that governments are now adopting alter people's decisions without coercion or significant changes to economic incentives. We calculated ratios of impact to cost for nudge interventions and for traditional policy tools, such as tax incentives and other financial inducements, and we found that nudge interventions often compare favorably with traditional interventions. We conclude that nudging is a valuable approach that should be used more often in conjunction with traditional policies, but more calculations are needed to determine the relative effectiveness of nudging.

Keywords: behavioral economics; behavioral science; choice architecture; college enrollment; education; electricity usage; energy; flu shot; influenza vaccination; nudge; nudge unit; open materials; pension plan; preventive health; savings.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Sciences*
  • Government Programs*
  • Government*
  • Humans
  • Policy*