Designing a Choice Architecture for Regulators

January 24, 2020

Download this Article (Public Administration Review)


The emergence of behavioral public administration has led to increasing calls for public managers and policy makers to consider predictable cognitive biases when regulating individual behaviors or market transactions. Recognizing that cognitive biases can also affect the regulators themselves, this article attempts to understand how the institutional environment in which regulators operate interacts with their cognitive biases. In other words, to what extent does the “choice architecture” that regulators face reinforce or counteract predictable cognitive biases? Just as knowledge of behavioral insights can help regulators design a choice architecture that frames individual decisions to encourage welfare‐enhancing choices, it may help governments understand and design institutions to counter cognitive biases in regulators that contribute to deviations from public interest policies. From these observations, the article offers some modest suggestions for improving the regulatory choice architecture.