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Nudge+: putting citizens at the heart of behavioural public policy

In: Research Handbook on Nudges and Society


  • Sanchayan Banerjee
  • Peter John


This chapter aims to review the concept and practice of Nudge+. Nudge+ builds on standard arguments for nudging by empowering people to think transparently before engaging with a nudge autonomously. Our contribution sets out the key intellectual and research contexts leading to nudge+ in promoting these new kinds of agency-preserving behavioural interventions. The first context relates to nudges and concerns around its efficacy and ethics. Efficacy is important, particularly as recent scholarly debate points towards limitations in scaling up these interventions and their small effect sizes. A citizen-oriented nudge can benefit from iterations of nudges that comport with citizens' values and goals to help achieve spillovers across fields of human behaviours, such as informed voting and pro-environmental actions. Assisting citizens to understand the complex relationships involved in delivering public policy and their role in achieving it could encourage behaviour change to be self-sustaining rather than unnecessarily relying on a passive delivery of nudges. A long-term approach of partnership with citizens might be able to deliver profound and self-motivated behaviour change. In the second context, ethics is increasingly important especially as nudges are perceived to influence citizens in ways which can seem to undermine human agency and autonomy. The third context relates to a long stream of work on deliberative interventions or thinks, which has the advantage of fostering agency and ensuring a direct link to democratic mechanisms but remains hard to scale up. This chapter shows how nudge+ emerges from these debates by taking advantage of conventional nudges in retaining their convenience and know-how, while at the same introducing a reflective plus that enables citizens to reflect alongside the nudge and own the process of behaviour change. We describe these Nudge+ interventions and summarise recent research that tests their effectiveness. The chapter concludes by mapping out extant research on Nudge+, and indicating the direction of future work. It sets out its relationship to other behavioural approaches that have emerged in recent years under the aegis of the encompassing behavioural agency framework (BAF), whereby behavioural public policy scholars have stressed the role of agency but have proposed different ways of addressing it, such as using boosts or system two nudges.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanchayan Banerjee & Peter John, 2023. "Nudge+: putting citizens at the heart of behavioural public policy," Chapters, in: Cass R. Sunstein & Lucia A. Reisch (ed.), Research Handbook on Nudges and Society, chapter 13, pages 227-241, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:elg:eechap:22035_13

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