Empowering citizens with behavioural science
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Contributor(s): Professor Ralph Hertwig | Nudging promises that minor adjustments in choice architecture can influence decisions without altering incentives. However, nudging has also been criticised, including objections to its soft paternalism and its neglect of agency, autonomy, and the longevity of behaviour change. In response to such criticisms— and the proliferation of highly engineered and manipulative, commercial choice architectures—other behavioural policy approaches have been proposed, focusing on empowering citizens to make well-informed decisions. Those approaches are based on a view of human cognitive and motivational capacities that goes beyond the deficit model underlying nudge. In the face of systemic problems such as climate change, pandemics, threats to liberal democracies, and rapid cycles of technological innovations, evidence-informed investments in a competent, informed, and active citizenry seem an essential—though not—sufficient policy approach. This talk outlines recent developments in conceptual and empirical research that aims to empower citizens by boosting their competences.