24 April 2017

Comparative Nudges

'Behavioral Insights All Over the World? Public Attitudes Toward Nudging in a Multi-Country Study' by Cass R. Sunstein, Lucia A. Reisch and Julius Rauber comments
Nudges are choice-preserving interventions that steer people’s behaviour in specific directions while allowing people to go their own way. Some nudges have been controversial, because they are seen as objectionably paternalistic. This study reports on nationally representative surveys in eight diverse countries, investigating how people actually think about nudges and nudging. The study covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea. Generally, we find strong majority support for nudges in all countries, with the important exception of Japan, and with spectacularly high approval rates in China and South Korea. We connect the findings here to earlier studies involving the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, France, Germany, and Hungary. The largest conclusion is that while citizens generally approve of health and safety nudges, the nations of the world appear to fall into three distinct categories: (1) a group of nations, mostly liberal democracies, where strong majorities approve of nudges whenever they (a) are seen to fit with the interests and values of most citizens and (b) do not have illicit purposes; (2) a group of nations where overwhelming majorities approve of nearly all nudges; and (3) a group of nations with markedly lower approval ratings for nudges. We offer some speculations about the relationship between approval rates and trust.
'The Curious Case of Choice Architect: Examining the Philosophical Inconsistencies of Libertarian Paternalism' by Francis Kuriakose and Deepa Kylasam Iyer comments 
Classical economics works on the principle that individuals are rational and make decisions to maximize their self interest. However in real situations, individuals face a conflict between rational and irrational selves leading to decision making that does not leave them better off. Libertarian paternalism proposes a solution to this rationality problem in an individual by conceiving a choice architect. Choice architect is a third party capable of arriving at what a perfectly rational choice would be and ‘nudges’ an individual towards making that choice. Libertarian paternalists claim that choice architect does not interfere with the freedom of an individual because the choices he offers are easily reversible, i.e, an individual can reject it at any given point in time. Libertarian Paternalism seems to offer the third way between absolute autonomy of individual choice (libertarianism) and third party intervention (paternalism). This paper argues that the conception of a choice architect comes out of a hasty commitment to reconciling libertarianism and paternalism by placing perfect rationality and autonomy in two separate individuals in the case of a single decision making process. The paper proposes alternatives to confront the rationality problem.