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U.S. Behavioral Insights Team

In 2010, the UK created its Behavioral Insights Team  (Links to an external site.)and the Danes formed the Danish iNudgeyou (Links to an external site.) unit. The European Nudging Network (TEN) (Links to an external site.) was launched in June 2014. Not to be left too far behind, on September 15, 2015, President Obama, through executive order, established the White House (WH) Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (Links to an external site.) (SBST) as a part of the pre-existing White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP was established by law in 1976.

Then everything changed. One of President Trump’s initial actions on January 20, 2017, was to disband the OSTP leadership and effectively discontinue this portion of federal government science and technology support. The WH SBST and its associated website remain frozen awaiting to see if President Biden revives it. The applied behavioral sciences program, however, still continues in Europe and in most Social and Behavioral Sciences Divisions within universities across the US and Europe. To get an idea of where this is headed, the most recent nudging ideas being discussed by the Global Nudging Community can be found pinned on the home page’s geographical map of TEN’s website, (Links to an external site.)

One example of nudging is to apply our understanding of Behavioral Economics to entice people to make rational decisions when they otherwise might not.

What do you think of this plan and the global nudging movement in general?

Do you feel these efforts to nudge individuals (with bounded rationality to make choices that, at least from the outside, appear to be truer to consumer optimum) are of value? What behavioral obstacles did Thaler and Benartzi identify that apparently were causing people not to make choices in their best interests? Do you ever find the second obstacle applying to you (like, in getting around to doing this discussion, lol)? Is nudging something the government should financially support? Do you agree with President Trump that this movement, as well as most other policy issues related to science, should not be encouraged by the White House? Have you started saving for retirement yet?

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