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Administration converts to behavioral sciences

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In 1897, when Paul Doumer took over as governor-general of French Indo-China in Hanoi, he decided to build sewers. Las, the rats begin to proliferate and cases of plague appear. The one who will become president of the Republic in 1931, not admitting to being defeated, offers a bonus to those who will hunt the animal. It will be enough to report the tail of the rat to obtain it. It is then that one lives in Hanoi, running rats without tail and that one discovered that certain inhabitants had started in the raising of the rongeurâ € |

For Stéphan Giraud, project manager at the Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation (DITP), "câ € ™ is the typical example of public policy launched without understanding the terrainâ € | Â ». The specialty of Mr. Giraud is the behavioral sciences. Or how to design policies that take into account the way citizens react to them.

Read also the tribune: Integrating Behavioral Science into Public Policy

The government is preparing to launch new projects as part of this program started in 2013, and amplified by Emmanuel Macron, who is very interested in the reform of the state. . Seven public policies have thus been scrutinized by the DITP under the supervision of Matignon and Bercy: how to encourage French people to consume less antibiotics? How to prevent sleep deprivation in CP children? How to promote the adoption of environmentally friendly heating methods? Etc. Five other projects will be launched in the coming weeks, particularly on the issue of non-use of energy aids or on that of the addiction of children to screens.

"Push to choose the option that you deem preferable"

These initiatives are only at a stammering stage. In this area, France is not ahead. It's been twenty years since Tony Blair's movement from the United Kingdom spread like a prairie fire around the world. Barack Obama had even created a "Nudge unit" To the White House. In French, it looks like "boost" or "gentle incentive". Behavioral sciences seek to understand the functioning of individuals; the nudge is a technique that aims to change their behavior, "Push people to choose the option that they deem preferable"says Olivier Desrichard, professor of psychology at the University of Geneva. The "nudge" is the submerged part of the iceberg. "We only talk about that because it's sexy, the researcher continues. But this is only one technique among others that derives from the behavioral sciences that exist. AT"


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