The news that Obama had some of the leading behaviourists advising his campaign comes as no surprise to me, however I likely underestimated how much they influenced both the campaign and the voters.
Time takes a look at this “behavioural dream team” and discusses how the Obama administration is using behavioural economics to guide its financial policies.
The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. “It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it,” Moffo tells TIME. “These guys really know what makes people tick.”
President Obama is still relying on behavioral science. But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country. Because when you know what makes people tick, it’s a lot easier to help them change.
While I like this progressive move, I—like Mind Hacks‘ Vaughan—feel the need to ask, “Where are the sceptical voices?”