Sofia Ranchordas in the International Review of Law, Computers & Technology: “In the last decade, several smart cities throughout the world have started employing Internet of Things, big data, and algorithms to nudge citizens to save more water and energy, live healthily, use public transportation, and participate more actively in local affairs. Thus far, the potential and implications of data-driven nudges and behavioral insights in smart cities have remained an overlooked subject in the legal literature. Nevertheless, combining technology with behavioral insights may allow smart cities to nudge citizens more systematically and help these urban centers achieve their sustainability goals and promote civic engagement. For example, in Boston, real-time feedback on driving has increased road safety and in Eindhoven, light sensors have been used to successfully reduce nightlife crime and disturbance. While nudging tends to be well-intended, data-driven nudges raise a number of legal and ethical issues. This article offers a novel and interdisciplinary perspective on nudging which delves into the legal, ethical, and trust implications of collecting and processing large amounts of personal and impersonal data to influence citizens’ behavior in smart cities….(More)”.
A cross-sectional quasi-experimental study was implemented in restaurants in four European countries: Denmark, France, Italy and United Kingdom. In total, 360 individuals aged 12-19 years were allocated into control or intervention groups, and asked to select from meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based meals. All three dishes were identically presented in appearance (balls with similar size and weight) and with the same sauce (tomato sauce) and side dishes (pasta and salad). In the intervention condition, the vegetable-based option was presented as the “dish of the day” and numbers of dishes chosen by each group were compared using the Pearson chi-square test. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was run to assess associations between choice of vegetable-based dish and its potential associated factors (adherence to Mediterranean diet, food neophobia, attitudes towards nudging for vegetables, food choice questionnaire, human values scale, social norms and self-estimated health, country, gender and belonging to control or intervention groups). All analyses were run in SPSS 22.0.
The nudging strategy (dish of the day) did not show a difference on the choice of the vegetable-based option among adolescents tested (p = 0.80 for Denmark and France and p = 0.69 and p = 0.53 for Italy and UK, respectively). However,
The “dish of the day” strategy did not work under the study conditions. Choice of the vegetable-based dish was predicted by natural dimension, social norms, gender and attitudes towards vegetable nudging. An understanding of factors related to choosing
University of Zurich: “Nudging is a well-known and popular concept in behavioral economics. It refers to non-coercive interventions that influence the choices people make by changing the way a situation is presented. A well-known example of this is placing the salad bar near the cafeteria entrance to promote a healthy diet. It has been shown that simple change has an effect on the food people choose to eat for lunch. However, is a light salad really the best option from the employee’s perspective, or is it their employer who will benefit from staff who perform better in the afternoon? And, is improving the decisions we make really that simple?
Measuring the quality of a decision
Whether a nudge ultimately results in a person making decisions that are better suited to their needs is an important factor in assessing the effectiveness of nudges. This is the starting point of the research work of Nick Netzer and Jean-Michel Benkert from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich. How do you measure whether a nudge improves a decision in the eyes of the person being nudged? “We can’t determine whether a nudge improves the choices a person makes until we understand how they reach their decisions,” says Nick Netzer, putting the hype surrounding nudging into perspective. “Depending on which behavioral model we take as a starting point, it is possible to measure the effectiveness of nudges — or not.”
Traditional economics assumes that a person’s preferences can be inferred from their decisions and behavior. According to the rational behavior model, a person’s decision to have a salad or a steak for lunch is based on which meal meets their needs. When it comes to assessing nudges, however, this model is problematic, since nudging manipulates precisely the behavior that is supposed to shed light on a person’s preferences. The researchers
Paper by Samuli Reijula, Jaakko Kuorikoski et al: “Nudge and boost are two competing approaches to applying the psychology of reasoning and decision making to improve policy. Whereas nudges rely on manipulation of choice architecture to steer people towards better choices, the objective of boosts is to develop good decision-making competences. Proponents of both approaches claim capacity to enhance social welfare through better individual decisions.
We suggest that such efforts should involve a more careful analysis of how individual and social welfare are related in the policy context. First, individual rationality is not always sufficient or necessary for improving collective outcomes. Second, collective outcomes of complex social interactions among individuals are largely ignored by the focus of both nudge and boost on individual decisions. We suggest that the design of mechanisms and social norms can sometimes lead to better collective outcomes than nudge and boost, and present conditions under which the three approaches (nudge, boost, and design) can be expected to enhance social welfare….(More)”.
Book by Cass R. Sunstein and Lucia A. Reisch: “Many “nudges” aim to make life simpler, safer, or easier for people to navigate, but what do members of the public really think about these policies? Drawing on surveys from numerous nations around the world, Sunstein and Reisch explore whether citizens approve of nudge policies. Their most important finding is simple and striking. In diverse countries, both democratic and nondemocratic, strong majorities approve of nudges designed to promote health, safety, and environmental protection—and their approval cuts across political divisions.
In recent years, many governments have implemented behaviorally informed policies, focusing on nudges—understood as interventions that preserve freedom of choice, but that also steer people in certain directions. In some circles, nudges have become controversial, with questions raised about whether they amount to forms of manipulation. This fascinating book carefully considers these criticisms and answers important questions. What do citizens actually think about behaviorally informed policies? Do citizens have identifiable principles in mind when they approve or disapprove of the policies? Do citizens of different nations agree with each other?
From the answers to these questions, the authors identify six principles of legitimacy—a “bill of rights” for nudging that
Daniel M. Hausman in the Review of Behavioral Economics (Special Issue on Behavioral Economics and New Paternalism): “People often make bad judgments. A big brother or sister who was wise, well-informed, and properly-motivated could often make better decisions for almost everyone. But can governments, which are not staffed with ideal big brothers or sisters, improve upon the mediocre decisions individuals make? If so, when and how? The risks of extending the reach of government into guiding individual lives must also be addressed. This essay addresses three questions concerning when paternalistic policies can be efficacious, efficient, and safe: 1. In what circumstances can
Daisuke Wakabayashi in the New York Times: “Technology companies like to promote artificial intelligence’s potential for solving some of the world’s toughest problems, like reducing automobile deaths and helping doctors diagnose diseases. A company started by three former Google employees is pitching A.I. as the answer to a more common problem: being happier at work.
The start-up, Humu, is based in Google’s hometown, and it builds on some of the so-called people-analytics programs pioneered by the internet giant, which has studied things like the traits that define great managers and how to foster better teamwork.
Humu wants to bring similar data-driven insights to other companies. It digs through employee surveys using artificial intelligence to identify one or two behavioral changes that are likely to make the biggest impact on elevating a work force’s happiness. Then it uses emails and text messages to “nudge” individual employees into small actions that advance the larger goal.
At a company where workers feel that the way decisions are made is opaque, Humu might nudge a manager before a meeting to ask the members of her team for input and to be prepared to change her mind. Humu might ask a different employee to come up with questions involving her team that she would like to have answered.
At the heart of Humu’s efforts is the company’s “nudge engine” (yes, it’s trademarked). It is based on the economist Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize-winning research into how people often make decisions because of what is easier rather than what is in their best interest, and how a well-timed nudge can prompt them to make better choices.
Google has used this approach to coax employees into the corporate equivalent of eating their vegetables, prodding them to save more for retirement, waste less food at the cafeteria and opt for healthier snacks….
But will workers consider the nudges useful or manipulative?
Todd Haugh, an assistant professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, said nudges could push workers into behaving in ways that benefited their employers’ interests over their own.
“The companies are the only ones who know what the purpose of the nudge is,” Professor Haugh said. “The individual who is designing the nudge is the one whose interests are going to be put in the forefront.”…(More)”.
Paper by Stéphane Bergeron, Maurice Doyon, Laure Saulais and JoAnne Labrecque: “Using a controlled experiment in a restaurant with naturally occurring clients, this study investigates how nudging can be used to design menus that guide consumers to make healthier choices. It examines the use of default options, focusing specifically on two types of defaults that can be found when ordering food in a restaurant: automatic and standard defaults. Both types of defaults significantly affected choices, but did not adversely impact the satisfaction of individual choices. The results suggest that menu design could effectively use non-informational strategies such as nudging to promote healthier individual choices without restricting the offer or reducing satisfaction….(More)”.
Our study questions the universality of these claims. We employ a novel four-party setup to disentangle the roles three observational mechanisms play in mediating behavior. We systematically vary the observability of one’s actions by others as well as the (non-)monetary relationship between observer and observee. Observability involving economic incentives
crowds-out anti-social behavior in favor of more pro-social behavior.
Surprisingly, social observation without economic incentives fails to achieve any aggregate pro-social effect, and if anything it backfires. Additional experiments confirm that observability without additional monetary incentives can indeed backfire. However, they also show that the effect of observability on pro-social behavior is increased when social norms are made salient….(More)”.
Rema Hanna and Vestal McIntyre at VoxDev: “In their day-to-day dealings with the government, citizens of developing countries frequently encounter absenteeism, demands for bribes, and other forms of low-level corruption. When researchers used unannounced visits to gauge public-sector attendance across six countries, they found that 19% of teachers and 35% of health workers were absent during work hours (Chaudhury et al. 2006). A recent survey found that nearly 70% of Indians reported paying a bribe to access public services.
Corruption can set into motion vicious cycles: the government is impoverished of resources to provide services, and citizens are deprived of the things they need. For the poor, this might mean that they live without quality education, electricity, healthcare, and so forth. In contrast, the rich can simply pay the bribe or obtain the service privately, furthering inequality.
Much of the discourse around corruption focuses on punishing corrupt offenders. But punitive measures can only go so far, especially when corruption is seen as the ‘norm’ and is thus ingrained in institutions.
What if we could find ways of identifying the ‘goodies’ – those who enter the public sector out of a sense of civic responsibility, and serve honestly – and weeding out the ‘baddies’ before they are hired? New research shows this may be possible
You can test personality
For decades, questionnaires have dissected personality into the ‘Big Five’ traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These traits have been shown to be predictors of behaviour and outcomes in the workplace (Heckman 2011). As a result, private sector employers often use them in recruiting. Nobel laureate James Heckman and colleagues found that standardized adolescent measures of locus control and self-esteem (components of neuroticism) predict adult earnings to a similar degree as intelligence (Kautz et al. 2014).
Personality tests have also been put to use for the good of the poor: our colleague at Harvard’s Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), Asim Ijaz Khwaja and collaborators have tested, and then subsequently expanded, personality tests as a basis for identifying reliable borrowers. This way, lenders can offer products to poor entrepreneurs who lack traditional credit histories, but who are nonetheless creditworthy. (See the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab’s website.)
You can test for civic-mindedness and honesty
Out of the personality-test literature grew the Perry Public Sector Motivation questionnaire (Perry 1996), which comprises a series of statements that respondents can state their level of agreement or disagreement with measures of civic-mindedness. The questionnaire has six modules, including “Attraction to Policy Making”, “Commitment to Public Interest”, “Social Justice”, “Civic Duty”, “Compassion”, and “Self-Sacrifice.” Studies have found that scores on the instrument correlate positively with job performance, ethical behaviour, participation in civic organisations, and a host of other good outcomes (for a review, see Perry and Hondeghem 2008).
You can also measure honesty in different ways. For example, Fischbacher and Föllmi-Heusi (2013) formulated a game in which subjectsroll a die and write down the number that they get, receiving higher cash rewards for larger reported numbers. While this does not reveal with certainty if any one subject lied since no one else sees the die, it does reveal how far their reported numbers were from the uniform distribution. Those with high dice high points have a higher probability of having cheated. Implementing this, the authors found that “about 20% of inexperienced subjects lie to the fullest extent possible while 39% of subjects are fully honest.”
These and a range of other tools for psychological profiling have opened up new possibilities for improving governance. Here are a few lessons this new literature has yielded….(More)”.