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Advancing behavioural public policies: in pursuit of a more comprehensive concept

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Behavioural public policy is predominantly based on insights from behavioural economics and psychology in order to ‘nudge’ people to act in line with specific aims and to overcome the dilemma of behaviour that contradicts economic rationality. In contrast, we define behavioural public policy as a multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological concept that utilises insights from the whole range of behavioural research. Based on a scoping review and peer survey we see merit in behavioural insights from disciplines such as anthropology, geography and sociology as well as the application of qualitative methods. Our findings identify the need to advance behavioural public policy conceptually and methodologically. This article challenges our current understanding of behavioural policymaking by integrating ‘foreign’ views and approaches that do not (yet) belong to the core discipline. We argue that behavioural public policy should not be a synonym for a limited number of policy approaches (for example, nudges) based on specific research methods (for example, randomised control trials) to reach individual behaviour change. Instead, our findings suggest a redefinition of the scientific footing of behavioural public policy.
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Keywords: behavioural insights; behavioural public policy; multi-disciplinary; nudge; policymaking; scoping review; social science

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Fulda University of Applied Sciences, Germany 2: FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany

Publication date: January 2021

This article was made available online on July 7, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Advancing behavioural public policies: in pursuit of a more comprehensive concept".

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