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The 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, in honouring the work of Richard H. Thaler, highlights the growing impact of behavioural economics in science and policy. To mark the occasion, we have put together this collection of behavioural economics articles published this year in Nature Human Behaviour. From a typology of nudges for health-related behaviour change to an examination of under what conditions people will cooperate in order to sustain a public good, the research and opinion published in our pages exemplifies some of the key contributions this fast growing field is making to science and policy.
Tannenbaum et al. show that partisan framing influences beliefs about the ethical use of behavioural policy interventions, but both US adults and practising policymakers are accepting of nudges when stripped of partisan cues.
Research has shown that people dislike inequality. However, in a cross-cultural experiment, Zhou and colleagues show that, from a young age, people are unwilling to redistribute resources between individuals if this reverses an existing hierarchy.
Gächter et al. use experiments and simulations to show that low levels of cooperation (the ‘tragedy of the commons’) are systematically more likely in maintaining a public good than in providing a new one, even under identical incentives.
Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs requires mention of severe side effects, along with the most frequent. Sivanathan and Kakkar show that this practice dilutes consumers’ judgements of the overall severity of side effects
Hollands and colleagues classify possible interventions regarding the selection, purchase and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. The TIPPME framework enables systematic reporting and analysis of health-related behavioural change interventions.