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Applications of Behavioral Economics to Improve Health 

Applications of Behavioral Economics to Improve Health
Applications of Behavioral Economics to Improve Health

Ichiro Kawachi

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date: 25 July 2021

The adoption of health behaviors (e.g., smoking, healthy eating, physical activity) is patterned and constrained by numerous external forces including environmental cues, budget constraints, social reinforcement, and information asymmetry. Insights from the field of behavioral science suggest that people's behavioral decisions are shaped by the simultaneous influence of two cognitive systems—System 1 (in which judgments and choices are fast, automatic, effortless, and influenced by emotions), and System 2 (in which judgments are slow, controlled, effortful, and rule governed). In contrast to rationalist accounts of human decision-making (which emphasize System 2 processes), behavioral economics posits that people are prey to a number of predictable errors. The chapter describes examples of such heuristics and biases, and how they can be potentially leveraged to develop interventions to boost the effectiveness of behavior modification interventions.

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