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Opinion
Allison Schrager

Behavioral Economics Doesn't Have to Be a Total Loss

Exploiting personal biases to influence people's behavior was always a bad idea. Instead, governments and companies should find better ways to communicate risks.

People aren’t always rational when assessing risks.

People aren’t always rational when assessing risks.

Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP

Behavioral economics is facing a reckoning. 

For a few decades, the idea of applying human psychology to economics made a dry subject hip and relatable. Before, the field seemed out of touch, full of abstract models that started with the assumption that people would act rationally based on a universal desire to make widgets and get more stuff.