Traditionally economics has assumed that individuals are (perfectly) rational, consciously calculating benefits and costs before making a decision. Behavioral economics research has called this assumption into question, replacing the perfectly rational assumption with bounded, selective, quasi, and near rationality. If we are not calculating costs and benefits before deciding then how do we decide? One way of making decisions is the use of heuristics, short cuts, often the product of unconscious mental processes. Research by Gerd Gigerenzer and others has shown that heuristic can be as effective if not more effective then decision making as the result of conscious cost and benefit calculations.

Simplifications of insights around heuristics and bias have been developed into new policy instruments in the form of “nudges”. Nudging has become a lucrative and influential industry for changing decision making, and nudges are now widely used by private and public institutions. Thaler and Sunstein in Nudge define a nudge as anything which “alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives .” Can individuals be “nudged” by government and commercial organizations towards different decisions, which are not necessarily better from the individual’s perspective? Or are nudges ultimately a more effective and efficient way for government to achieve key policy goals?

This Special Issue will explore heuristics and nudges and the connections between them. Some of the issues we would like to address include the history of the concepts of nudging or heuristics in economics; which economic questions and problems can nudging and heuristics explain; and what is the empirical evidence for the value of nudging and heuristics? All papers or any topic concerning nudges and/or heuristics are welcome. Guest editors, Michelle Baddeley (Institute for Choice, University of South Australia), and Shabnam Mousavi (Sabnam Mousavi, Johns Hopkins University, and Max Planck Institute, Berlin).

For papers about nudging, please send an abstract of 500 words or less to Michelle Baddeley at, and for papers about heuristics, please send an abstract to Shabnam Mousavi at Abstract (500 words or less) submission deadline: August 1, 2017.



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