Three Challenges for Behavioural Science and Policy:The Empirical, the Normative, and the Political

Lepenies, Robert and MacKay, Kathryn and Quigley, Muireann (2018) Three Challenges for Behavioural Science and Policy:The Empirical, the Normative, and the Political. Behavioural Public Policy, 2 (2). pp. 174-182. ISSN 2398-0648

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In a ‘post-truth’ era in which personality and opinion trump evidence and reason, the need for frankness in debates about the use and boundaries of science and policy is high. We welcome the reflective and nuanced approach to behavioural science in policy-making in Sanders, Snijders and Hallsworth's (2018) piece. Despite our support for the approach in this paper, we suggest that there are deeper issues than are currently acknowledged. Our critique tackles three issues: the empirical, the normative and the political. In the first section, we examine what counts as ‘behavioural’ and how this label is used to legitimate a range of policy activities. We then look at randomised controlled trials in the next section, highlighting the extra-scientific dimensions of the empirical ‘What Works’ revolution. Finally, we question some ontological assumptions that drive empirical research and its translation into policy, asking where the collective is to be found in behavioural public policy.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Behavioural Public Policy
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Behavioural Public Policy, 2 (2), pp 174-182 2018, © 2018 Cambridge University Press.
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Deposited On:
16 Feb 2018 10:30
Last Modified:
31 Oct 2023 01:01