The most effective behavioral policies are often also the most contentious. Psychologically informed interventions that promote non-deliberative behaviors ("nudges") are often more effective than "traditional" policies (like informational and educational campaigns) that target more deliberative processes. Yet, precisely because of their deliberative nature, people are often said to prefer the latter over the former. In contrast, we provide evidence that people's preferences regarding nudges are malleable and influenced by the method of evaluation--whether the policy alternatives are evaluated separately or jointly. We show that while people exhibit a strong preference for more traditional public policies in joint evaluation, this preference is significantly attenuated in separate evaluation. We find that people perceive nudges as less paternalistic when judged on their own merits, that they are more likely to endorse nudges in separate than in joint evaluation, and that, provided with relative effectiveness information, people are willing to endorse nudges even in joint evaluation. We discuss the implications of these findings for researchers, policy-makers, and the general public.
Davidai, Shai, and E. Shafir. "Are 'Nudges' Getting a Fair Shot? Joint Versus Separate Evaluation." Behavioural Public Policy 0 (2018): 1-19.
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