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Choice architecture 2.0: can we use reflection in nudges to promote climate citizenship?

Banerjee, Sanchayan (2022) Choice architecture 2.0: can we use reflection in nudges to promote climate citizenship? PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004454


A nudge in the right direction has helped us improve our behaviours towards better health, wealth, and happiness (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). Nudges have been increasingly deployed to deliver climate policies in the last decade (Orlove et al., 2020). But recent evidence shows nudges are hard to scale–up (L¨oschel et al., 2020; Beshears and Kosowsky, 2020; DellaVigna and Linos, 2022; Mertens et al., 2022). So can we use nudges more effectively, or should we rely on other tools of behaviour change? In this thesis, I claim that reflective strategies can enhance nudges by encouraging agency and ownership in citizens. I discuss the need for behaviour change interventions to step–up to big environmental problems of our age, like climate change, in chapter 1. Then, I review the toolkit of behavioural public policy in chapter 2. I show there is more to behaviour change than nudging. Behaviour change interventions like thinks and boosts also lie at the origin of the behavioural policy cube, as conceived by Oliver (2017). In chapter 3, I outline a new behavioural toolkit, nudge+. Nudge+ builds on recent work combining heuristics and deliberation. It may be used to design pro-social interventions that help preserve the autonomy of the agent. The argument turns on seminal work on dual systems, which presents a subtler relationship between fast and slow thinking than commonly assumed in the classic literature in behavioural public policy. I review classic and recent work on dual processes to show that a hybrid is more plausible than the default interventionist or parallel competitive framework. I define nudge+, set out what reflection could entail, provide examples, outline causal mechanisms, and draw testable implications. I test these claims of nudge+ using two online, survey experiments in chapter 4. In the first experiment, I systematically compare nudges to reflective toolkits like thinks, boosts, and nudge+ over orders of low-carbon meals with 3,074 participants in the United Kingdom. I find all behavioural toolkits increase intentions for climate-friendly diets, but encouraging reflection prior to nudging (“nudge+”) strengthens these treatment effects by 30%. In the second experiment, I re–test these claims with another 5,552 participants in England. I show that nudge+ almost doubles the effectiveness of the nudge. There is also evidence that nudge+ promotes positive behavioural spillovers, as it increases donations to pro-social charities by 20% or more, compared to the nudge. In chapter 5, I summarise these contributions of nudge+ to environmental and behavioural economics, and discuss avenues for new research in future. There is potential for reflection in nudges to promote climate citizenship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Sanchayan Banerjee
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Mourato, Susana and John, Peter and Galizzi, Matteo M.

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