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  • Author or Editor: Kathrin Loer x
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Behavioural public policy is predominantly based on insights from behavioural economics and psychology in order to ‘nudge’ people to act in line with specific aims and to overcome the dilemma of behaviour that contradicts economic rationality. In contrast, we define behavioural public policy as a multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological concept that utilises insights from the whole range of behavioural research. Based on a scoping review and peer survey we see merit in behavioural insights from disciplines such as anthropology, geography and sociology as well as the application of qualitative methods. Our findings identify the need to advance behavioural public policy conceptually and methodologically. This article challenges our current understanding of behavioural policymaking by integrating ‘foreign’ views and approaches that do not (yet) belong to the core discipline. We argue that behavioural public policy should not be a synonym for a limited number of policy approaches (for example, nudges) based on specific research methods (for example, randomised control trials) to reach individual behaviour change. Instead, our findings suggest a redefinition of the scientific footing of behavioural public policy.

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This Special Issue features theoretical, methodological, and empirical advancements of the state-of-the-art in behavioural public policy and administration. In this introduction, we develop a behaviourally-informed, integrated conceptual model of the policy process that embeds individual attitudes and behaviour into context at the meso and macro level. We argue that behavioural approaches can be situated within a broader tradition of methodological individualism. Despite focusing on the micro level of policy processes, the contributions in this issue demonstrate that the behavioural study of public policy and administration can go beyond the individual level and give important insights into policy and societal outcomes. Our model enables us to draw more substantial lessons from behavioural research by moving beyond the verification of individual behaviour change. If based on a broad conceptual design and methodological pluralism, behavioural policies bear the potential to better understand, investigate and shape social outcomes.

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