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The University of Southampton
EconomicsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

2304 Fear of the Light? Transparency does not reduce the effectiveness of nudges

Discussion paper 2304 ‘Fear of the Light’? Transparency does not reduce the effectiveness of nudges. A data-driven review by Hendrik Bruns, Adrien Fillon, Zacharias Maniadis and Yavor Paunov.

Does transparency reduce the effectiveness of nudges? The question is central in recent research about nudges, since it leads to ethical and practical implications regarding responsibility, agency, the design of nudges and policy-making. We meta-analysed results from 19 studies comparing transparent to opaque nudges and found no difference in the effectiveness of the nudge. We then tested several moderators such as the type of experiment (Online, Laboratory, Field), Category (structure, information, assistance) and domain (environment, food, health, pro-social and other) and found no meaningful moderator. We note that only two studies were conducted in the field and that there is an over-representation of default nudges in the studies included. We call for an improvement of research conducted on transparent nudges and the inclusion of more types of nudges, preferably in a field setting. It is also important to define what form of transparency societies require for respecting their citizen’s autonomy.

Keywords: nudge, transparency, meta-analysis, review JEL Classification Codes: C9, D91


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'Fear of the Light'? Transparency does not reduce the effectiveness of nudges

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