Nudging has become a well renowned concept in policymaking around the globe, supporting active behavior changes like higher retirement saving, healthier nutrition or saving natural resources. Stemming from the behavioral economics (BE), nudge-interventions aim at changing individuals’ behaviors without limiting their freedom of choice, exerting coercion or significantly changing economic incentives. As nudging still impairs individuals’ autonomy, the concept has evoked heated debates about its ethical acceptability. Recently, IS scholars have begun to recognize the potential of nudging in digital contexts leading to the notion of digital nudging. The importance of ethical considerations when designing and implementing nudge-interventions has been acknowledged, however, a detailed analysis of these concerns in digital environments is still missing. In this article, we summarize, transfer and discuss the ethical considerations raised in BE in light of digital contexts. Three important ethical considerations for digital nudges are discussed: (1) Preserving individuals’ freedom of choice / autonomy, (2) transparent disclosure of nudges and (3) individual (pro-self) and societal (pro-social) goal-oriented justification of nudging. As a result, we provide a first ethical landscape for digital nudging in IS, based on its BE roots. We conclude with a provision of several future research avenues.
Lembcke, Tim-Benjamin; Engelbrecht, Nils; Brendel, Alfred Benedikt; and Kolbe, Lutz, (2019). "TO NUDGE OR NOT TO NUDGE: ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS OF DIGITAL NUDGING BASED ON ITS BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS ROOTS". In Proceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Stockholm & Uppsala, Sweden, June 8-14, 2019. ISBN 978-1-7336325-0-8 Research Papers.