People Prefer System 2 Nudges (Kind Of)
Work data:ISSN: 1939-9111
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Policy & Regulation | Politics and Political Science | Psychology
In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and many other nations, those involved in law and policy have been exploring initiatives that preserve freedom of choice, or “nudges,” informed by behavioral science and promoting important public policy goals, such as improved health and safety. But there is a large and insufficiently explored difference between System 1 nudges, which target or benefit from automatic processing, and System 2 nudges, which target or benefit from deliberative processing. Graphic warnings and default rules are System 1 nudges; statistical information and factual disclosures are System 2 nudges. On philosophical grounds, it might seem tempting to prefer System 2 nudges, on the assumption that they show greater respect for individual dignity and promote individual agency. A nationally representative survey in the United States finds evidence that, in important contexts, most people do prefer System 2 nudges. At the same time, that preference is not fixed and firm. If people are asked to assume that the System 1 nudge is significantly more effective, then many of them will shift to preferring the System 1 nudge. In a range of contexts, Republicans, Democrats, and independents show surprisingly similar responses. The survey findings and an accompanying normative analysis offer lessons for those involved in law and policy who are choosing between System 1 nudges and System 2 nudges.