Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy
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Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy

Edited by Holger Straßheim and Silke Beck

Behavioural change has become a core issue of public policy. Behavioural instruments such as ‘nudging’ apply insights from behavioural economics and behavioural sciences, psychology and neurosciences across a broad range of policy areas. Behavioural insights teams and networks facilitate the global spread of behavioural public policies. Despite an ever-growing amount of literature, research has remained fragmented. This comprehensive Handbook unites interdisciplinary scholarship, with contributions critically assessing the state and direction of behavioural public policies, their normative implications and political consequences.
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Chapter 14: The politics of nudge and framing behaviour change in health

Muireann Quigley and Anne-Maree Farrell


This chapter examines how the political context impacts the use of behavioural insights in public policy. Specifically, we explore how the political context, which frames the use of nudges in matters of public health, has led to a mismatch between policy intent and implementation. This problem of mismatch is explored through two examples: health promotion and organ donation. In the first example, it is suggested that behavioural health promotion focuses too much on individual lifestyle preferences, with insufficient account being taken of the wider social determinants of health. The example of organ donation is used to show that the nudges may be an inadequate tool for addressing complex public policy problems. Drawing on such examples, the chapter concludes with a consideration of how this mismatch impacts upon broader questions concerning evidence-based policy and political legitimacy.

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