Table of contents

The empire strikes back

The ethics of using covert strategies - a letter to the British Psychological Society (II)
In an earlier blogpost, I described how psychologists working in the Government’s ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ had recommended the use of covert psychological strategies - or ‘nudges’ - to promote people’s compliance with the draconian coronavirus restrictions. In particular, I proposed that the delib…
A comprehensive account of the psychological approaches deployed by the BIT is provided in the document, MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy (Dolan et al., 2010) (4). The authors of MINDSPACE describe how their behavioural strategies provide ‘low cost, low pain ways of “nudging” citizens … … into new ways of acting by going with the grain of how we think and act’ (p7) (Our emphasis). By expressing the process of change in this way, this statement reveals a key difference between the BIT interventions and traditional government efforts to shape our behaviour: their reliance on tools that often impact on us subconsciously, below our awareness.