Nudges and Nodality Tools

New Developments in Old Instruments

Authored by: Colin R. Kuehnhanss

Routledge Handbook of Policy Design

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815369189
eBook ISBN: 9781351252928
Adobe ISBN:


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The (centralized) collection and dissemination of information is a common feature of policymaking, and many policy tools directly originate and benefit from governments’ nodal position. It allows detection and information-gathering unavailable elsewhere in the social network and facilitates the spreading of messages to specific individuals, groups or the public at large. Traditionally, expectations of people’s reactions to such policy tools are based on models of rationality and maximization of self-interest. However, the ongoing popularization of behavioral insights in policymaking is shifting the focus towards the use of empirically observed behavior and people’s cognitive biases to tailor information to ‘nudge’ them towards socially desirable choices. This shift is affecting both procedural and substantive policy tool design. This chapter first discusses the concept of nodality and two (recent) instruments based on it: political communication and social marketing. It then considers the increased use of information-based nudges by governments and under what circumstances nudges can be seen as forming a distinct form of policy tool.

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