Behavioural Science and Public Policy

Mission Statement

During the last five years Applied Behavioural Science (Behavioural Economics, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology and User Centered Design) has emerged as a promising scientific foundation for the design and delivery of evidence based policy. Under the meme of ‘nudging’ this new paradigm has led governments and public institutions around the world to set up so-called “Behavioural Insights Teams” to apply behavioural scientific approaches and methods as a supplement, or just as often as an alternative, to the standard command and control repertoire of strategies for public regulation. However, this change of regulatory paradigm is not uncontroversial and leads to new and important considerations, questions and misunderstandings amongst policy makers, citizens and scientists alike. The ISSP group for Behavioural Science and Policy has as its mission, to guide and inform this transition in ways that best promote responsible design and delivery of public policy using a strong emphasis on establishing publicly transparent and accessible networks of collaboration amongst stakeholders, philosophical sound foundations, and new ways for behavioural scientists to inform, collaborate and learn from these stakeholders.

Pelle Guldborg Hansen

Pelle Guldborg Hansen

Leader of BSPP

Director of ISSP, Director of Behavioural Science and Policy, Behavioral Scientist, Roskilde University

Alberto Alemanno

Vice-director of Applied Behavioral Science, Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law & Risk Regulation, HEC Paris

Lucia Reisch

Professor for consumer behaviour and consumer policy, Copenhagen Business School

Federico Jose Armando Pérez-Cueto

Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen

Laurits Rhoden Skov

PhD-student, Aalborg University

Karsten Schmidt

Future Generations Leader of Applied Behavioral Science, PhD-student, CBIT-Danish Business Authorities, Roskilde University

Andreas M. Jespersen

PhD-student, CBIT-Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, Roskilde University

Kristian Roed Nielsen

PhD-student, Copenhagen Business School

Main Themes

The Behavioural Science and Policy group early on identified the issue of prompted choice vs. opt-in and opt-out for Danes registering as organ donors. Through a series of publications and subsequent meetings with politicians, journalists and organizations this effort led to a new law proposal about prompted choice being presented to the Danish parliament and voted through parliament in 2014. As a direct result experiments on prompted choice on will be carried out during 2015 as a first step in implementation. Likewise the issue of defaults concerning so-called “klatpensioner” was identified as another issue by the Behavioural Science and Policy group as one that should be solved in an evidence based way. This led to several meetings with politicians, and stakeholders as well as KeyNotes on relevant conferences and the issue is currently passing slowly through the political system.

Behavioural Science and Policy theme: After successfully achieving a milestone concerning developing and disseminating a sound ethical and conceptual framework concerning nudge-interventions, the Behavioural Science and Policy group identified the diagnostic (i.e. scientific) approach to developing nudge-interventions as a theme due to a current trend in the misuse and mis-application of behavioural science by many stakeholders, especially private consultants.

Simultaneously the Behavioural Science and Policy group was central in establishing The European Nudge Network in the summer of 2014 on the model of The Danish Nudging Network that the group established in 2011. The former is endorsed by OECD and the EU commission and its further development remains a central theme of the group.

Relevant Publications by (or with contributions from) Behavioural Science and Policy


Infostorms:  How to take information punches and save democracy. Vincent F. Hendricks & Pelle G. Hansen. New York: Copernicus Books / Springer, February 28, 2014


HANSEN, PELLE GULBORG; Laurits Rohden Skov, Katrine Lund Skov. 2016. Making Healthy Choices Easier: Regulation versus Nudging. Annual Review of Public Health. Vol. 37: 237-251. (Volume publication date March 2016) First published online as a Review in Advance on December 30, 2015.

HANSEN, PELLE GULDBORG. 2016. The Definition of Nudge and Libertarian Paternalism: Does the hand fit the glove? European Journal of Risk Regulation, 2016.

HANSEN, PELLE GULDBORG; Katrine Lund Skov; Laurits Rodhen Skov; Andreas Maaløe Jespersen; Karsten Schmidt. 2015. Apples vs. Brownies: A Field Experiment in Rearranging Conference Snacking Buffets to Reduce Short-Term Energy. Intake Journal of Foodservice Business Research (2015)

HANSEN, PELLE GULDBORG; Johannes Schuldt-Jensen; Andreas Rathman Jensen. Hvorfor gør de ikke hvad vi siger? Indsigter fra anvendt adfærdsforskning. Aktuel Nordisk Odontologi 2015, s. 11-28, 2015 ISBN 87-628-1436-3

HANSEN, PELLE GULDBORG; Schmidt, Karsten; Skov, Laurits Rhoden; Jespersen, Andreas Maaløe; Pérez-Cueto, Federico Jose Armando; Mikkelsen, Bent Egebjerg. 2013. Smaller plates, less food waste : a choice architectural experiment in a self-service eating setting. Abstract from 20th International Congress of Nutrition, Granada, Spanien.

HANSEN, PELLE GULDBORG; Skov, Katrine Lund; Schmidt, Karsten; Skov, Laurits Rhoden; Mikkelsen, Bent Egebjerg; Pérez-Cueto, Federico Jose Armando. The smaller the pieces the healthier their consumption : a choice architectural experiment in behavioural nutrition. / 2013. Abstract from 20th International Congress of Nutrition, Granada, Spanien.

HANSEN, P.G. & Jespersen, A.M. (2013). Nudge and the Manipulation of Choice. The European Journal of Risk Regulation, Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 3-28, 2013.

HANSEN, P.G., Hendricks, V.F. & Rendsvig, R.K. (2013). Info-storms. Metaphilosophy, Wiley, April, 2013, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 301 – 326.

Whitepapers, contributions to

Mind, Society and Behavior, A World Bank Group Flagship Report, World Development Report 2015 (PGH)

Nudging Ett verktyg för hållbara beteenden? Oksana Mont, Matthias Lehner och Eva Heiskanen, Svenske Naturvårdsverket Rapport 6642, November 2014

Regularity Policy and Behavioural Economics, OECD report by Pete Lunn, 2014 (PGH)

Relevant Outreach

Op eds.

  • Nudge – Nudge for Good. Af Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Policy Options 01.06.13
  • Who owns your knowledge? By Pelle Guldborg Hansen and Karsten Schmidt, 27.08.13
  • Nudging: Hvordan får man folk til at ændre adfærd? By Pelle Guldborg Hansen, 28.09.13
  • Forskere om organdonation: Tving bilister og NemID-brugere til at tage stilling af Richard Thaler og Pelle Guldborg Hansen, 08.07.14
  • Ønsker du hjælp: Fald om på en stille villavvej. Vincent F. Hendricks, Pelle Guldborg Hansen (ABsC), Rasmus Rendsvig, Henrik Boensvang, Berlingske / kronik, 27.12.14


Future Generations of Behavioural Science and Public Policy

Ben Schenkel, Fullbright Scholar, University of Pennsylvania

Kasper Hulgaard, Master Student, Communication & Psychology, Roskilde University

Johannes Schuldt-Jensen, Master Student, Psychology, University of Copenhagen

Andreas Rathman Jensen, Master Student, Psychology, University of Copenhagen

Thomas K. Madsen, Master Student, Comm. & Social Science, Roskilde University

Katrine L. Skov, Master Student, Economy and Psychology, Copenhagen Business School

Simon Jespersen, Student, Informatics, Roskilde University

Terne Sasha Thorn Jakobsen, Bachelor Student, Informatics & Social Science, Roskilde University

Posts about BSPP activities

ABsC Director attends OECD workshop

On January 23rd, Director of ABsC, Pelle Guldborg Hansen attended the OECD Workshop for “Behavioural Insights and New Approaches to Policy Design”.   Hansen attended the workshop as an appointed moderator of a session regarding Micro and Macro Impacts of Applying...

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The European Nudge Network

 The aim of the conference is to take stock of the first 5 years of The New Policy Applied Behavioral Science by gathering for the first time all European actors involved in applying behavioural sciences to policymaking. The event is also set to launch The European...

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