A new study promoting the application of so-called nudge theory in policy-making will be launched at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

The booklet, authored by Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre, draws together a body of work on nudge, also known as behavioural economics, and challenges policy makers to consider wider use of such techniques in place of heavy-handed legislation.

The study is called Nudge Theory: Behavioural Economics in European Policy Making and has the subtitle "Creating smarter, more-effective policies and programmes."

As well as testimony from "nudge" experts, especially in the fields of public health and law enforcement, the booklet reports the findings of a high-level hearing in Brussels held by the European Conservative and Reformist Group's Policy Group on Better Regulation, which West Midlands MEP Miss McIntyre chairs.

It uses case histories to demonstrate how employing the appropriate persuasive messages can be more effective in influencing public behaviour than regulation and punitive sanctions.

The launch will take place at a fringe event on Sunday evening within the conference secure zone, focusing on business and hosted by Miss McIntyre, who is Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament.

She said: "There will be range of business voices as well as politicians at the event - and they know well that a lighter touch in guiding individual or corporate behaviour can produce the right results without added burdens or red tape.

"The challenge for the future is to encourage use of nudge techniques in policy making across Europe. Evidence shows they can be applied to a host of areas including environmental, economic and social policies.

"Regardless of the desired outcome, a greater understanding of people's behaviour and how they are likely to react to different approaches can enable policy-makers to create smarter regulation."