And How Would That Make You Feel? How People Expect Nudges to Influence Their Sense of Autonomy

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020)
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ObjectiveWhile nudges are increasingly utilized in public policy settings, their potential threat to autonomous choice is the topic of heated debate. Regardless of the actual effects of nudges on autonomy, the mere perception of nudges as autonomy threatening by the general public or policy makers could negatively influence nudge acceptability. The present online studies examined how people expect nudges to affect their perception of autonomy.MethodsIn the first study, participants were presented with a hypothetical choice that employed either a default nudge, direct persuasion, or no persuasion, to steer to the desired choice. The presented influence technique was explained before participants reported their expected autonomy, as well as their expected choice satisfaction. Study 2 involved a replication of Study 1 with an additional social norm nudge condition. In Study 3, the explanation of how choice had been influenced was omitted.ResultsWhile participants expected the default nudge to violate autonomy, they had no such expectations for social norm nudges. Omitting the explanation that most people are unaware of nudges influencing their choice, reduced the negative impact of nudges on expected autonomy.ConclusionEffects of nudges on expectations of autonomy differ by type of nudge. Negative expectations are primarily driven by the explanation that decision makers are often unaware of nudges.



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The Ethics of Nudge.Luc Bovens - 2008 - In Mats J. Hansson & Till Grüne-Yanoff (eds.), Preference Change: Approaches from Philosophy, Economics and Psychology. Berlin: Springer, Theory and Decision Library A. pp. 207-20.

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