PUBLICATION Beijer Discussion Paper

Nudge for environmental protection

One relatively new approach for influencing human behavior, that is based on insights from psychology, that could complement or possibly replace some of the current environmental policies, is to rely on so-called nudges; that (sometimes) tiny push that ‘nudges’ someone into a desirable direction. Attention in research has certainly grown (along with the public interest) the last few years, but skeptics also intensify their voices. For a more systematic use of nudges in environmental policy, are there today enough sound scientific grounds for policy makers to base their policies on? What lessons can we learn from past experiences and what are the biggest caveats in our current knowledge on nudging?To be able to speak about the best suit of environmental policies and specifically to determine if nudges should be part of it we believe it is crucial to explore these issues. We conclude that scientific research to support the implementation of nudges is lacking. We emphasize the need for a more systematic approach involving careful planning and monitoring (long-term). We also call for interdisciplinary approaches, e.g. the combination of insights from ecology, economics and psychology.

Keywords: Environmental policy; behavioral economics; psychology; consumer behavior

Lindahl, T., and B. Stikvoort. 2014. Beijer Discussion Paper 248: Nudge for environmental protection. Beijer Discussion Paper Series.