Liberals, Conservatives and Health Nudges

In his survey of the attitudes of the American public towards nudging, Cass Sunstein notes that Democrats tend to be more favorably disposed towards health and safety nudges than Republicans.

The data we've collected from our interactive experiment, To Nudge or Not To Nudge?, suggests that this pattern holds true when the categories are broadened beyond party identification to the more general categories "liberal" and "conservative". Here's what our data shows.

Calorie Labels

nudge calories

These results are broadly in line with Sunstein's results, though showing significantly more skepticism - 61% approval vs. 77% approval - on the part of our conservatives as compared to Sunstein's Republicans.

Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes Packaging

nudge cigarettes

This shows the same general pattern, but this time our liberals are keener on graphic warnings - 87% approval vs. 77% approval - than Sunstein's Democrats. An interesting result here is that in contradistinction to the calories labels case (above), there is very little difference between our conservatives (65% approval) and Sunstein's Republicans (68% approval).

Healthy Food Placement

 nudge grocery

Here our conservatives, as in the case of calorie labels, are significantly more skeptical than Sunstein's Republicans, albeit Sunstein did not find majority support among Republicans (47% approval) for a state requirement that grocery stores put their most healthy items in prominent locations. Our liberals are similarly less enthusiastic than Sunstein's Democrats (57% approval vs. 63% approval).

Socialists in the Middle

One interesting piece of data here is that in each instance people who self-identify as socialist fall between liberals and conservatives in terms of how well disposed they are towards these health related nudges. Why this would be the case is not clear, and warrants further research.