Nudging can be considered the application-based offspring of psychological research, which has been focusing on the mismatch of decision-making modes, i.e., fast and slow thinking. Through conscious modification of decision architectures – all contextual, social, and cognitive aspects which potentially influence a decision –, Nudging promises to improve individual decisions and, through accumulation of these individual decisions, solve bigger problems. Currently, Nudging is considered a global trend in the field of politics as it promises to solve diverse sets of problems (health, tax compliance, traffic, retirement savings etc.) at almost zero costs. Further, Nudging claims to be in accordance with core democratic principles, such as free choice, liberty, and individualism etc. This article puts the claims of Nudge advocates to test by critically interrogating Nudging, its associated philosophy of liberal paternalism, its implicit assumptions, as well as its methodology. In order to present a holistic criticism of Nudging, this article draws from interdisciplinary sources – primarily psychology, philosophy, and political science – and identifies, and contextualizes the weaknesses and blind spots of Nudging. This article hopes to re-establish a more balanced view regarding the primarily positively discussed megatrend of Nudging.
Keywords: Nudge, Nudging, Behavioral Economics, Decision-Making, Politics