The full conference programme will be announced on April 1 2017.

Friday June 23

09.15 – 09.45 hrsOpening Ceremony
Professor dr. Denise de Ridder, Chair of the Conference
Professor dr. 
Bert van der Zwaan, Rector Magnificus Utrecht University

Victor Everhardt, Alderman City of Utrecht
09.45 – 10.30 hrsKeynote Lecture – Behavioural science and policy
David Halpern, UK Behavioural Insights Team
10.30 – 11.00 hrsCoffee break
11.00 – 12.30 hrsFirst Parallel Session
Symposia & Workshops (6 subsessions)
12.30 – 13.30 hrsLunch
13.30 – 15.00 hrsSecond Parallel Session
Symposia & Workshops (6 subsessions)
15.00 – 15.30 hrsCoffee break
15.30 – 17.00 hrsThird Parallel Session
Symposia & Workshops (6 subsessions)
18.30 – 19.30 hrsDrinks
19.30 – 23.00 hrsConference walking dinner @ Academiegebouw


 Saturday June 24

09.15-10.00 hrsKeynote Lecture – Who is afraid of nudges?
Luc Bovens
10.00 – 10.30 hrsCoffee break
10.30 – 12.00 hrsFirst Parallel Session
Symposia & Workshops (6 subsessions)
12.00 – 13.00 hrsLunch
13.00 – 13.45 hrsKeynote Lecture – The Honest Truth About Dishonesty
Dan Ariely, Duke University
13.45 – 14.00 hrsClosing Ceremony
14.00 – 14.30 hrsFarewell drinks


Keynote Lectures

David Halpern, UK Behavioural Insights Team
Behavioural science and policy


Since 2010, the UK government has conducted hundreds of behaviourally-inspired trials to help the unemployed back to work fasters; help small firms to grow faster; reduce energy consumption; encourage giving; encourage prompt payment of taxes; and improve educational attendance and performance. Many other governments are also now starting to use behavioural insight approaches to address policy challenges, such as obesity, economic growth, and group conflict. This keynote session will give a sense of life Inside the Nudge Unit, present a range of recent results, and show how and why governments across the world are turning to behavioural and experimental approaches to policy.

Luc Bovens, London School of Economics and Political Science
Who is afraid of nudges?


Roughly ten years have passed since the publication of Thaler and Sunstein’s seminal article “Libertarian Paternalism” (American Economic Review 2006) and their book Nudge—Improving Decision about Health, Wealth and Happiness (Penguin 2008).  Their work has generated critical academic reviews, policy papers and actual policy initiatives.  We will take stock of some of the recurring themes in this literature.  What sets Nudges apart among other behavioural public policies?  Does a government respect the autonomy and dignity of its citizens when instituting Nudge policies?  Does it respect the transparency that we expect from public policies?  Are randomised controlled trials a fitting methodology to evaluate candidate policies?  And finally, what can be learned from comparing the choice architectures of societies with better and worse outcomes?

Dan Ariely, Duke University
The honest truth about dishonesty


In this talk Dan will discuss how the principles of behavioral economics can help us understand some of our irrational tendencies, specifically the mechanisms at work behind dishonest behavior. One of the most interesting lessons at work is understanding our capacity to think of ourselves as honest even when we act dishonestly. The implications of this research are far reaching and include a better understanding of financial crises, regulations, and day-to-day misbehaviors. These insights are critical for nudging people to display more honest behavior.



Based on submitted abstracts, we were able to select a number of very interesting symposia, roundtables and thematic sessions. The program contains sessions with speakers from different disciplines (law, policy, psychology, philosophy, behavioral economics) and organizations (academic institutions, government, business). Themes include sustainability, food decisions, legitimacy of nudging, nudging and the law, financial behavior, and more.




Please find an overview of the invited workshops below. Click on the  sign for more information about the content.


Welfare Improvement through Nudging Knowledge (WINK)

Chairs: Emely de Vet, Wageningen University and Floor Kroese, Utrecht University

The WINK project funded by the Netherlands Scientific Organization NWO, highlights a systematic empirical investigation of nudges for the promotion of health and wellbeing by a multidisciplinary research team, featuring psychologists, communication, ethics and public administration scholars. In this workshop we will present and discuss major findings from the project, with a specific emphasis on the effectiveness of various nudges, their normative acceptability and practical feasibility for public policies.

Why Nudge?

Chair: Holger Strassheim, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Nudging, and more broadly: behaviourally informed policy making, has become widely popular across the globe. This 3-hr workshop seeks to understand why this is the case. How can we understand the behavioural turn in public policy making? Why has the time come now for this idea? And how does this new practice align, integrate and collide with traditional modes and routines of public policy making? In this workshop, these questions will be addressed by discussing research papers from participants.

Of Nudge, Tools and Bolts

Chair: Peter John, University College London

This panel investigates the newest insights in how behaviorally informed policies become integrated in public policy making. The 3-hr workshop seeks to understand how the relatively simple idea of creating effective nudges plays out in real settings. Which policy interventions, based on behavioral insights, have proven to be effective? How are behavioral insights integrated in policy making? Which areas of application are fruitful? In this workshop, these questions will be addressed by discussing research papers from participants.

Financial debt and behavioural insights

Workshop hosted by Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) |  Chair: Mark Bovens/ Anne-Greet Keizer, Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy

Since the financial crisis the number of people with serious financial debt is on the rise. This is a major problem, not only because being in debt is profoundly disruptive and stressful, but also because, once people are in debt, it is extremely hard for them to get out. One striking aspect of the problem is that most debtors realize perfectly well that they should better manage their finances, that they should save more, spend less, et cetera. Yet, for some reason, they fail in translating that knowledge into appropriate action. In 2016 the WRR has published a study that explains how behavioural insights can help understand why debtors act the way they do, and how this is relevant for interventions. In this workshop, Bovens and Keizer will discuss how they translated these bahavioral insights into policy advice.

Organizing behavioral insights for public policy making

A Workshop hosted by Dutch School of Public Administration and Utrecht School of Governance | Chairs: Jorren Scherpenisse; Netherlands School of Public Administration (NSOB), the Netherlands premier provider of public sector executive education and independent center of applied research, and Joram Feitsma, Utrecht School of Governance.

Public policy interventions traditionally need to conform with various academic insights, from law to economics and management to social sciences. As a consequence, legal, economic and policy specialists have been embedded in public organizations. Now that behaviorally informed policy making is on the rise, a new institutional space needs to be carved out for behavioral expertise. How can we organize behavioral knowledge in public policy. This workshop will present the latest insights in how behavioral expertise can be fruitfully organized in public policy and then discuss challenges and routes ahead with academics and practitioners.

Thinking straight and slow

Workshop hosted by Netherlands Council for Health and Society  |  Chair: Jasper Zuure, Marjolein Blom and Evert Schot; Council for Health and Society

This interactive workshop will explore how behavioral knowledge and insights in decision making can be used to strengthen our thinking about complex policy issues. Participants will engage with a pressing and complex policy issue. The chairs will help them focus, analyze, and organize the problem so that avenues (and limits!) for fruitful intervention open up. It will be an applied exercise in behaviorally informed thinking about public policy.

Nudging in public health policy making

Workshop hosted by National Institute for Public Health and the Environment  |  Chair: Else Zantinge & M.S. Lambooij; National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

Increasingly, nudging and health behavioral insights are considered as possible tools in national and regional health policy. The participants in this workshop will apply academic concepts to problems that health policy makers face. We start with a framework containing several mechanisms that explain how nudging works. Participants will confront this framework with predefined or their own cases, addressing applicability, efficacy and conditions of nudging in policy practices. Policy makers in the workshop will present their perspectives during discussion. We hope to inspire the participants with new ideas about nudging in a policy context.

How to connect the ‘living’ with the ‘lab’? Signals from society

The public health department of Utrecht uses behavioral insights to encourage healthy choices. Do you want to know more about finding opportunities, finding support, implementing nudges in practice and do you want to experience this process? The municipality organizes an interactive workshop while leaving the choice up to you; will you also choose healthy?

Workshop hosted by the Public Health Department of the city of Utrecht on local nudging opportunities  |  Chair: Niek Verlaan and Nicolas Takken, Public Health Department City of Utrecht

Nudges don't design themselves: How to design for effective behavior change?

Behavior change design has much to gain with the integration of insights from social psychology in the design process. Similarly, behavioral scientists can greatly benefit from adopting designer methods to make sure their nudges ‘work’ in a broad range of user contexts. This integration needs to be done carefully without hampering the creative process nor the scientific validity of the nudge. In this workshop we present a model (Persuasive by Design) and tool (The Behavioural Lenses) that contributes to the design of evidence-based health interventions. The model and tool offer possibilities to enhance user research and concept development by informing designs with principles central to the behavioral sciences.

Chairs: Reint Jan Renes, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Sander Hermsen,, Wageningen University

Nudge and the law

This workshop will be devoted to introducing a distinctly legal perspective on nudging. We will explore two main links between nudge and the law. The first is when law is used to nudge citizen and becomes a tool of public nudging. Such use of law raises a legitimacy question: is it ever legitimate for the state to nudge us ? The second is when law regulates private nudging. Firms nudge consumers all the time. Is it always acceptable? How can legal architecture streamline the activity of decision architects?

Chairs: Anne-Lise Sibony, University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Ecoles des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) Paris

What counts as behavioral evidence for EU policy-making?

This workshop will address the application of behavioral insights to EU policy-making, with particular emphasis on the epistemology of such insights. What is considered robust behavioral evidence in the policy-making process? This approach will make us question the validity of one-off experiments, the preference for quantitative over qualitative methodology, and the need to have studies that represent all of EU-28. The workshop will include presentations by academics and policy makers and will seek to bridge the gap between these two milieus.

Chair: René van Bavel,  Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, in collaboration with Robert Madelin, Strategy Consultant, and a representative from a European member state (to be confirmed)

Nudging and the Energy Transition

The Energy Transition i.e., the transition to an energy system based largely on renewable resources, presents one of the most fundamental challenges today. In this workshop, we focus on the demand side of the energy market and the role that consumers play in driving this transition – consumers as market actors, co-producers and consumer citizens. Consumer energy policy has discovered the potential of behaviorally informed policies in general and the instrument of nudges in particular. We will investigate how such policies can help steer consumers toward more sustainable energy use, i.e. use energy more efficiently and convert to renewable energy sources.

Chair: Lucia Reisch, Copenhagen Business School & Joanna Sousa Lourenco, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

Ethics of nudging: its relevance for personal autonomy

Chairs: Marcel Verweij, University of Wageningen and Mariëtte van den Hoven, Utrecht University

Nudging is both embraced and refuted by ethicists and philosophers. Nudges would belong to a field of manipulative actions that disrespect agency, jeopardize proper reasoning and decision-making and limit the freedom of choice. At the same time, nudges were presented to be an ethically acceptable type of interventions by Thaler and Sunstein, arguing that this libertarian paternalist type of actions will always respect individual autonomy, allowing for an ‘easy way out’. Whether nudges are autonomy infringing or possibly also autonomy enhancing is actually open for debate, and might depend upon the characteristics of the nudges involved. In this workshop we invite academics to present recent work on nudging & ethics. The presentations can focus on a) conceptual reflections on nudging & autonomy; b) concrete nudging interventions that have been evaluated from an ethical perspective; c) conditions under which nudges deem (un)acceptable from an ethical perspective; d) empirical ethical findings on autonomy and nudging.