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Can Nudges Be Transparent and Yet Effective?

  • Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
woensdag 14 september 2016
Stichthage, Den Haag

Can Nudges Be Transparent and Yet Effective? 

The lecture by Dr. Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko will be about the application of ‘nudges’ in public policy. ‘Nudges’ have received growing attention as an effective strategy to alter people's decisions without significantly changing economic incentives or limiting options. However, being often very subtle and covert, nudges are also criticized as being unethical. By not being transparent about influencing the individual choice they might be perceived as limiting freedom of autonomous actions and decisions. So far, empirical research on this issue is scarce. In her co-authored paper dr. Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko investigates whether nudges can be transparent without limiting their effectiveness. For this purpose she conducted a laboratory experiment at the Erasmus University Rotterdam where she ‘nudged’ contributions to carbon emission reduction by introducing a default value. The study tested how different types of transparency (i.e. knowledge of the potential influence of the default, its purpose, or both) influence the effect of the default. The findings demonstrate that the default option increases contributions, and additional information does not significantly affect the level of contributions. In other words, there is no evidence that transparency of a default inhibits its effectiveness (through psychological reactance) or enhances it (through the saliency of the purpose). The findings support the policy-relevant claim that nudges (in the form of defaults) can be transparent and yet effective.

Based on the paper by Hendrik Bruns, Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko, Katharina Klement, Marijane Luistro Jonsson, and Bilel Rahali. The paper can be accessed here.

Due to unforeseen reasons, the DGA seminar on ‘The State of Democracy in Africa and the Prospects for the Future’ by Nicholas Cheeseman initially scheduled on September 14 had to be cancelled.

Register now.


About the Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar Series

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. dr. M.O. Hosli (coordinator)

Dr. J.J. Kantorowicz


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