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The Council of Psychological Advisers

Psychology, policy


Findings in behavioral science, including psychology, have been influencing policies and reforms in many nations. “Choice architecture” can affect outcomes even if material incentives are not involved. In some contexts, default rules, simplification, and uses of social norms have been found to have even larger effects than significant economic incentives. Psychological research is helping to inform initiatives in areas that include savings, finance, highway safety, consumer protection, energy, climate change, obesity, education, poverty, development, crime, corruption, health, and the environment. No nation has created a Council of Psychological Advisers, but the role of behavioral research is likely to grow in coming years, especially in light of the mounting interest in promoting ease and simplification (“navigability”); in increasing effectiveness, economic growth, and competitiveness; and in low-cost, choice-preserving approaches. (The Appendix is a one-page list of thirty-one such approaches.)

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