When good policy can’t stand on its own, then you have to find other ways to convince people it is good policy. And that’s what the Obama administration is doing with behavioral science. Also, don’t miss in the article below the book they are using as their guide:
FOX NEWS – The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.
While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.
“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals,” reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.
Such policies — which encourage behavior subtly rather than outright require it — have come to be known as “nudges,” after an influential 2008 book titled “Nudge” by former Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler popularized the term.
The term “nudge” has already been associated with the new program, as one professor who received Shankar’s email forwarded it to others with the note: “Anyone interested in working for the White House in a ‘nudge’ squad? The UK has one and it’s been extraordinarily successful.”
Richard Thaler told FoxNews.com that the new program sounds good.
“I don’t know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided,” he said.
“The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right.)”