Co-designing behavioural public policy: lessons from the field about how to ‘nudge plus’

Liz Richardson, Peter John

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Behavioural public policies, known as nudges, suffer from lack of citizen consent and involvement, which has led to an argument for more reflective nudges, known as ‘nudge plus’.
Aims and objectives
How can more citizen reflection be introduced in a way that is not itself top-down and paternalist in spite of good intentions? How might these nudge pluses develop on the ground?
This paper reports a mixed methods case study.
In the case study, there was an intervention that started off as a top-down nudge, using a randomised controlled trial. The nudge then evolved into a bottom-up initiative with citizen input aided by a design-lab approach.
One way to address tensions between top-down and bottom-up approaches is to let in the messiness and loss of direct control implied in a design lab, whereby ‘nudge pluses’ might evolve naturally and without expert direction. The success of the eventual initiative points the way to more design-based nudge plus interventions.
Nudge pluses may emerge naturally as a result of the evolutionary co-design process. There is potential for replication, with cross-fertilization between different traditions by introducing behaviour change policies with a design-based approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvidence and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2021


  • behavioural public policy • nudge • design • citizen participation


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