Academy of Finland
Funding decision
Applicant / Contact person Malecka, Magdalena
Organisation University of Helsinki
Project title
Behaviour, knowledge, policy. A philosophy of science perspective on the applications of the behavioural sciences to policymaking.
Decision No. 308682
Decision date 13.06.2017
Funding period 01.09.2017 - 31.08.2018
Funding 92 410
WebFOCUS Report
Project description
Behavioural science gains increasing popularity as a basis of policymaking. It is used to inform new approach to policy - nudging: influencing citizens' behaviour by slight changes in the choice architecture. The examples of nudges include e.g., the default opt-out for organ donations or for retirement savings, shocking health warnings on cigarette packages. Proponents of such a behavioural policy as well as academics debating it believe that the behavioural science research provides evidence on causes of behaviour by cognitive processes, as well on behavioural tendencies (biases) and irrational behaviour. It is claimed that this research is more adequate and realistic than neoclassical economics and that it identifies robust phenomena. This image of the behavioural sciences is largely mistaken. The aim of the project was to bring insights from the philosophy of science to challenge it and to propose a more nuanced understanding of what do we know on the basis of behavioural science.