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Look into their eyes

The government's unethical use of 'nudging' and behavioural insights

Nudging is everywhere these days. Marketers use nudging and other psychological techniques to influence our purchasing decisions. But rather more pernicious is the use of fear or guilt campaigns to nudge us to do things that the government wants us to do, for no good reason - or for reasons that are entirely spurious.

Such techniques used to be the stuff of authoritarian societies and the Soviet-era. Their use by our government to coerce us into behaviour designed to fulfil the requirements of behavioural ‘scientists’ doctrinally motivated by Communist ideologies has no place in a supposedly democratic society.

Dr Gary Sidley is a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist and a member of the Health Advisory & Recovery Team. Gary recently published a paper based on a programme of research that drew attention to the UK government’s use of nudge and other behavioural interventions that - he suggests - were highly unethical.

I started by asking Gary about his background in psychology and about the origins of nudging - as well as the government’s “look into their eyes” campaign. 

We also discuss the extent to which behavioural scientists have have become embedded all over government - and the lack of ethical judgement that is required of these people when exercising their nudging techniques.

The New Era
TNE Podcast
Jeffrey Peel and others from The New Era team meet with leading lights from business, politics, economics and academia.