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Why nudge sometimes fails: fatalism and the problem of behaviour change

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Nudge presumes that decision-making is guided by intuitive biases and heavily influenced by the environment in which choices are made. However, critics argue that in place of the quick thinking envisaged by nudge behaviour change reflects deeper and broader thought processes. One of these patterns of thinking ‐ fatalism ‐ has been identified across health and allied disciplines as key to explaining the reason why many people ignore authoritative advice. Insights drawn from a critical review of the fatalism literature explain why nudges sometimes fail. While a fatalist mindset seems to make some of us more susceptible to nudges, it prompts others to respond to nudges in surprising and dysfunctional ways.
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Keywords: Douglas; behaviour change; fatalism; health; nudge; policy; reactance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiff University, UK

Publication date: January 2021

This article was made available online on June 1, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Why nudge sometimes fails: fatalism and the problem of behaviour change".

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