Centre for Ethics and Law


Ethics of Behaviour Change

3 October 2016

While behaviour change has long interested psychologists and economists, its potential for public policy has only recently become clear.

This international rise in political interest has in turn, spurred on a rise in research on the ethical and legal status of behavioural public policy. This project, led by Dr Chris Mills, seeks to understand the principles required to guide the employment of such policies in liberal society. 

Liberal societies value personal freedoms and autonomous behaviour. Do behaviour change policies undermine these values? If so, to what extent? And in what contexts should the state still employ them? If not, why not? And what other liberal values explain objections to such policies?

Answering these pressing questions requires us to bring together a wide range of literature from psychology, economics, moral philosophy, political theory and public policy. the project aims to do this, in a manner that answers the questions of policy-makers and philosophers alike.

For more on the psychology of behavior change, see UCL Centre for Behaviour Change.

For more on behaviour change in public policy, see the Behavioural Insights Team.