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Yiling Lin


PhD student



Project Title: Dynamic Learning and Decision Making

Summary: Nudges are psychological techniques designed to help people to make better decisions that impact their health and wellbeing. It has created significant interest in the public domain, and at the policy level, because techniques have been used to affect our consumer and our lifestyle choices (i.e. smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise) all of which are thought to contribute to risk factors that lead to problems in mental and physical health. 

However, questions have been raised around the reliability of the techniques and about the ethics around how they operate, especially given their potential challenges to an individual’s autonomy. We review the evidence for a variety of nudge techniques, focusing specifically nudges modifying behaviors in the health domain. We raise key empirical points, which concern the fact that research on nudge needs to establish more internal and external validity before we can claim that nudges works. We then examine the theoretical underpinnings of the nudge techniques with an aim to elucidating potential problems with the role of the unconscious, and offer solutions by presenting an alternative theoretical framework. 

In general our view is that by addressing some of the key empirical and theoretical issues, we can establish more clearly what needs to be done to understanding how to help mitigate risk factors that underpin major chronic diseases.

Yiling is a member of Dr Magda Osman's Dynamic Learning & Decision Making Laboratory.



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