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Amtrak and the Ethics of Influence


Amtrak wants you to buy travel insurance, even if it’s not in your best interest. BY ELLIOTT JAMES You pick your fare, decline to bring your Scottish Terrier, fill in your credit card details and hit “continue,” with a breeziness that makes you feel like you’re already hurtling down the Northeast Corridor towards Manhattan. Only […]

Minds Playing Tricks: Illinois’ Pension Crisis


BY LAUREN MCHUGH In the hundreds of campaign tweets made by Illinois governor candidates Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker in the past several months, they have each mentioned pensions just once. This is despite the state’s unfunded pension liability exceeding the GDP of Iceland, Nicaragua and Kenya combined. Behavioral economics tells us that precisely because […]

Vote Bundling and Vote Tripling: Innovative GOTV Tactics


BY ROBERT REYNOLDS Let’s say “Debbie the Democrat” is running for the US House of Representatives. Debbie knows she can win votes through personal contact with constituents. However, because doing this through typical methods like door knocking is time-intensive, her consultants insist she prioritize using TV ads and mailers to reach voters at scale. As […]

The Behavioral Science Revolution is Over-Hyped


BY DAVID FULL The October 2017 decision to award the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences to Professor Richard Thaler, a pioneer of behavioral economics and the father of ‘Nudge’ theory, promotes the narrative that behavioral science has sparked a public policy revolution. Even the latest series in the Harvard Kennedy School Review declared that “the […]

Undoing Tribalism: How Behavioral Science Can Sway Opinion and Reduce Conflict


BY SYLVIE STOLOFF AND ANNA GIANNUZZI What if we could deescalate some of the world’s deadliest conflicts by nudging people to think differently about their opponents? Contemporary international conflicts are increasingly shaped by identity politics, since religion, race, social background and other identity-based factors play a large role in determining political affiliations. This poses a […]

The Life-Saving Science of Avoiding Temptation


Humans constantly over-indulge, and our long-term health suffers for it. Behavioral science tools called “commitment devices” could help us both stay on track and stay alive.

What Works to Increase Disaster Preparedness?


Despite recent disasters and major national efforts to promote disaster readiness, a full two-thirds of American households do not have adequate plans or have no plans at all for a disaster. What can behavioral science teach us about how to get people to prepare?

In the Face of Massive Social Challenge, Start Small


BY MARIE LAWRENCE The behavioral science revolution is officially underway. Nudge, one of the discipline’s most influential trade books, is now on more than 750,000 bookshelves worldwide, and its co-author Richard Thaler is a new Nobel laureate. The Behavioural Insight Team’s (BIT) successful effort to encourage Brits to pay £210 million in overdue taxes found […]

How Democrats Can Win in 2018 with Behavioral Science


BY ROBERT REYNOLDS In 1840, Abraham Lincoln authored a plan for the Whig party to win the upcoming election: “watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence.” Democrats need a similar plan today. If liberals and conservatives voted at the […]

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