Creating Trusted Regulatory Policy

How can regulatory policymakers create regulations that citizens will trust and accept? As Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler and others have shown, regulators can draw on the findings from psychological studies to craft regulations that will prompt or “nudge” citizens to make better decisions. Another branch of psychological science, however, also can contribute in vital ways to regulatory policy and administration by making it more likely that citizens will accept regulations and comply with administrative decisions. This latter body of work, which is generally termed “the psychology of procedural justice,” focuses not on the content of regulations, but rather on the process by which regulations are designed, implemented, and administered. Field studies, policy experiments, and laboratory research dating back to the early 1970s—reinforced by very recent studies on the neuroscience of social behavior—show that acceptance of rules, compliance with…

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