Choice architecture 2.0: Behavioral policy as an implicit social interaction

by Job M. T. Krijnen, David Tannenbaum, Craig R. Fox
May 23, 2018

Author Note

An earlier version of ideas contained in this
article was presented by Fox at the August
2016 Academy of Management Conference
in Anaheim, California. We thank Alain Cohn,
Hengchen Dai, Jana Gallus, Jon Jachimowicz,
Dean Karlan, Alicea Lieberman, and Stephen
Spiller for helpful comments on earlier drafts of
this article.
A. This number was corroborated by a personal
communication from the Dutch agency registering
organ donation consent (Agentschap
CIBG—Donorregister), received June 1, 2017.
B. It is worth noting that Beshears et al. (in the study
provided in reference 24) tested their explanation
in a laboratory setting, which may have exacerbated
the social concerns of participants relative
to the field experiment.
C. This is not apparent from the published version of
the article cited in reference 57, which provides
smoothed data, but it can be seen from the raw
data, which are available from the authors of that
article upon request.
D. This pattern is called a Hawthorne effect because
it was first noted in studies from the 1920s and
1930s at the Hawthorne Works (a Western Electric
factory) outside Chicago. The studies reported
that experimentally manipulated changes in
working conditions (for example, the brightness
of lighting) led to increases in worker productivity,
regardless of the nature of those changes, but
these improvements diminished after the study
ended and workers were no longer reminded that
they were being observed. The original data from
the interventions at the Hawthorne plant were
analyzed in a 2011 article (see reference 59), and
the authors concluded that “ironically, there is little
evidence of the type of Hawthorne effect widely
attributed to these data when one subjects them
to careful analysis.”
E. For a related discussion on the effects that different
forms of transparency may have, see “Putting
the Public Back in Behavioral Public Policy,” by
P. De Jonge, M. Zeelenberg, and P. W. J. Verlegh,
Behavioural Public Policy, in press.
F. We hasten to point out that the backlash in the
Netherlands was temporary. In the months after
the bill was passed, the rate of new nondonors
slowly returned to the rate at which it had been
before. Although it is quite likely that in the long
run the introduction of an opt-out system will
have a positive effect on the number of people
who consent to organ donation, it still would have
been better if the Dutch legislature had been able
to prevent the backlash altogether.

Author Affiliation

Krijnen: University of California, Los Angeles.
Tannenbaum: University of Utah. Fox: University
of California, Los Angeles. Corresponding
author’s e-mail:


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