Changing behaviour

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


• Whilst governments have always been implicated in shaping the behaviour of subjects or citizens, a more explicit governmental agenda of ‘behaviour change’ has shaped recent public policy formation.
• Novel insights from behavioural economics, psychology, marketing and design disciplines have been influential in developing this emerging policy agenda.
• Behaviour change policies are founded on a conception of the human subject as error-prone, vulnerable to manipulation and emotional impulse, and often self-defeating and irrational.
• Policy initiatives and nudges have been developed via experimental trials which have often been centrally organised by special behavioural insight units of national governments.
• The behaviour change agenda raises important political and ethical issues concerning transparency, openness to public deliberation, the legitimacy of paternalism and their potential cumulative impact on individuals and populations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Student’s Companion to Social Policy
EditorsPeter Alcock, Margaret May, Tina Haux, Sharon Wright
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


  • behaviour change
  • behavioural sciences
  • behavioural economics
  • nudge
  • social policy


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