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Behavioral “nudges” are a cost-effective tool to get people to change their behaviors, finds a review in Psychological Science. Researchers searched the literature for papers that evaluated nudges–behavioral science-derived interventions for policy problems–in seven focus areas, including increasing workers’ retirement savings, boosting flu vaccination rates and reducing energy consumption. In each area, the researchers compared nudge interventions to traditional interventions, such as public education campaigns and cash incentives. The found that nudges were often more cost-effective than traditional interventions. For example, a mailing the prompted people to write down when and how they planned to get a flu shot led 13 people getting vaccinated per $100 spent on the mailing, while an education campaign on the benefits of the vaccine led to only nine additional vaccinations per $100 spent.

Susie Bean Gives