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Subtle psychological manipulations help people make smarter financial decisions

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Over the past 5 years, on behalf of state governments, nearly 100,000 Americans were gently manipulated by a team of social scientists. In 15 randomized, controlled trials, people in need of social services either encountered the standard application process or received a psychological nudge, in which the information was presented slightly differently—a postcard reminded them of deadlines, for example, or one choice was made easier than another. In 11 of the trials, the nudge modestly increased a person’s response rate or influenced them to make financially smarter choices. The results, to be presented tomorrow at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Chicago, Illinois, add to the growing evidence that nudges developed by psychologists can make a real difference in the success of government programs. “These interventions have positive effects,” says Sim Sitkin, director of the Behavioral Science & Policy Center at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved with the nudge trials. “They should be applied now.”

See on sciencemag.org



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