Choice without Awareness: Ethical and Policy Implications of Defaults

  title={Choice without Awareness: Ethical and Policy Implications of Defaults},
  author={N. Craig Smith and Daniel G. Goldstein and Eric J. Johnson},
  journal={Journal of Public Policy \& Marketing},
  pages={159 - 172}
Defaults have such powerful and pervasive effects on consumer behavior that they could be considered “hidden persuaders” in some settings. Ignoring defaults is not a sound option for marketers or consumer policy makers. The authors identify three theoretical causes of default effects—implied endorsement, cognitive biases, and effort—to guide thought on the appropriate marketer and policy maker responses to the issues posed for consumer welfare and consumer autonomy, including proposals for… 
Ethically Deployed Defaults: Transparency and Consumer Protection through Disclosure and Preference Articulation
Defaults are extremely effective at covertly guiding choices, which raises concerns about how to employ them ethically and responsibly. Consumer advocates have proposed that disclosing how defaults
Options to design more ethical and still successful default nudges: a review and recommendations
  • D. Lemken
  • Political Science
    Behavioural Public Policy
  • 2021
On the one hand, default nudges are proven to strongly influence behavior. On the other hand, a number of consumer autonomy and welfare concerns have been raised that hinder public policy
Overlooking Context: How do Defaults and Framing Reduce Deliberation in Smart Home Privacy Decision-Making?
It is suggested that nudges like defaults and framing exacerbate the well-researched problem that people often employ heuristics rather than making deliberate privacy decisions, and that privacy-setting interfaces should avoid the effects of heuristic decision-making.
Preference Dynamics in Sequential Consumer Choice with Defaults
This research examines the impact of defaults on product choice in sequential-decision settings. Whereas prior research has shown that a default can affect what consumers purchase by promoting choice
At Home with Sustainability: From Green Default Rules to Sustainable Consumption
Although it is often assumed that default rules affect change without awareness, this paper suggests that contrast with the default and transition into conscious adoption of the default design may be
Transparency effects on policy compliance: disclosing how defaults work can enhance their effectiveness
From an ethical standpoint, transparency is an essential requirement in public policy-making. Ideally, policy-makers are transparent and actively disclose the presence, purpose and means of a
Nudge for Good? Choice Defaults and Spillover Effects
Pro-social behavior induced by choice defaults does not result in adverse spillover effects on later, subsequent behavior, and this finding holds for both weak and strong choice defaults.
Green Nudging: A discussion and preliminary evaluation of nudging as an environmental policyinstrument
Traditional environmental policy instruments have not always proven successful in fostering environmentally friendly behaviour. The question remains: how can policymakers tackle the
Active Choosing or Default Rules? The Policymaker's Dilemma
For policymakers, the idea of active choosing has a great deal of appeal, not least because it avoids the charge of paternalism. In many contexts, however, an insistence on active choosing is a form


The Downside of Defaults
The use of default options to influence retirement saving behavior is often portrayed as a Pareto improvement because it guides behavior without constraining individual choice. When defaults are
Setting Software Defaults: Perspectives from Law, Computer Science and Behavioral Economics
This paper builds upon work in computer science, behavioral economics, and legal scholarship to establish a well-defined framework for how default settings in software should be determined and recommends several scenarios where policymakers should intervene and ensure that defaults settings are set to enhance societal welfare.
When Nudges Fail: Slippery Defaults
The Korean language version of this paper can be found at by the success of “automatic enrollment” in increasing participation in defined contribution
A ‘Nudge’ for Public Health Ethics: Libertarian Paternalism as a Framework for Ethical Analysis of Public Health Interventions?
Is it possible to interfere with individual decision-making while preserving freedom of choice? The purpose of this article is to assess whether ‘libertarian paternalism’, a set of political and
Choices, Values, and Frames
We discuss the cognitive and the psy- chophysical determinants of choice in risky and risk- less contexts. The psychophysics of value induce risk aversion in the domain of gains and risk seeking in
Partitioning default effects: why people choose not to choose.
It is found that the queries formulated by defaults can produce differences in constructed preferences and further that manipulating queries can also mitigate default effects.
Marketing Strategies for the Ethics Era
Libertarian Paternalism
Many economists are libertarians and consider the term “paternalistic” to be derogatory. Most would think that the phrase libertarian paternalism is an oxymoron. The modest goal of this essay is to
Ethical myopia: The case of “framing” by framing
The behavioural decision-theoretic concepts of mental accounting, framing and transaction utility have now been employed in marketing models and techniques. To date, however, there has not been any
Libertarian Paternalism is Not an Oxymoron
The idea of libertarian paternalism might seem to be an oxymoron, but it is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behavior while also respecting freedom of