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The role of perceived effectiveness on the acceptability of choice architecture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2018

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Anderson School of Management, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
*Correspondence to: H. Min Bang, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, NC27708, USA. Email:


The success of choice architecture, including its adoption in government policy and practice, has prompted questions of whether choice architecture design decisions are sufficiently transparent and publicly acceptable. We examined whether disclosing to decision-makers that a particular choice architecture is in place reduces its effectiveness and whether an understanding of the effectiveness of choice architecture design decisions increases their acceptability. We find that disclosure of the design decision does not reduce its effectiveness and that individuals perceive the effectiveness of specific designs to be higher for others than for themselves. Perceived effectiveness for self increases when individuals have actually experienced the effect of a design decision rather than having it simply described to them. Perceived effectiveness for oneself and others increases the acceptability of the designs. We also find that the intentions of the source matter more than who the source actually is. Important for policy-makers, then, is that disclosure of design decisions does not reduce their effectiveness, and their acceptability depends on their perceived effectiveness and the inferred motivations of the design architect.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018

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