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In the first chapter, we briefly describe what has been the influence of behavioural economics on policy. We have also focused on the nudge concept, which is an application of behavioural insights that changes choice architecture in order to steer people towards better choices for themselves. We have explained how choice architecture works and we have mentioned some examples of its impact on real life cases. In the end, we have taken into account the philosophical justifications to nudging by reviewing Cass R. Sunstein’s ideas. We have considered the arguments of libertarian paternalism and Sunstein’s Simpler State, which is based on the application of cost-benefits analysis and denotes the presence of some utilitarian traits in Sunstein’s view.
In the second chapter, we have compared three different States’ Nudge Units. In each paragraph, we have matched some of their main characteristics to get a concrete idea of their diversities and similarities: aims, structure, costs, benefits, legal status, owner and year of foundation. Firstly, we have discussed the global impact of nudging and how it has spread all over the world. Secondly, I have explored the development of nudging in the United Kingdom, by analysing the path that led David Cameron to establish the first national Behavioural Insights Team within his Cabinet Office. Thirdly, we have considered the roots of nudging in the USA, by taking into account the relationship between Cass Sunstein and Barack Obama. we have written about Sunstein’s experience at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and we have analysed the structure of the Social and Behavioural Insights Team, led by the young cognitive psychologist Maya Shankar.
Fourthly, we have analysed the structure of the Danish Nudging Network also by interviewing its founder Pelle Guldborg Hansen.
In the end, we have explained which is the situation of nudging in Italy and, by examining David Halpern’s acronym apples (administration, politics, people, location, experimentation, scholarships), we have tried to define the necessary conditions to establish an Italian Nudge Unit.
According to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, people follow their intuitions and employ heuristic techniques to save energy and time. However, these rules of thumbs provoke systematic mistakes - known as biases – within human reasoning. They concluded that our intuitions are deficient and they observed that human beings have not developed an intuitive sense of the reliability of statistical results. People’s behaviours are determined by situational conditions rather than by prescriptive ones. Following these premises, they founded modern behavioural economics, a new discipline that applies psychological principles to economics, finance and other fields.
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