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Cayce Hook

Cayce Hook

Cayce Hook

About

Many of the policies that have the strongest public health impacts are those that constrain choices people face (e.g., sin taxes, smoking bans, helmet laws). Americans often decry such policies as overbearing and intrusive. But do people always dislike constraints on behavior? Is it truly better to be radically free? Bridging psychology, communication, law, and public health, my research examines how to use legal policies and social norms to help people succeed in resisting temptation without feeling like their autonomy is limited. Using experiments and field studies, we find that social constraints can move the burden of regulation outside the self, freeing up people’s resources to focus on other goals. Despite initial skepticism, people often endorse constraints on behavior once they become the norm. In national survey experiments, I examine how to best communicate—and gain public support for—policies that improve health outcomes by lightening the burden of self-control.