Behavioral public policies are aimed at influencing the behavior of the public in a way that is advantageous for the public itself and within the law. Sanders, Snijders and Hallsworth (2018 , this issue) summarize the state of the art of this new field of study and introduce a number of challenges and opportunities for the time to come. We address an additional challenge that is present and central in all attempts to influence behavior, namely the public – the people that are the target of behavioral public policies. We review evidence revealing that people do not passively accept those influence attempts, but often show reactant responses. We propose that the Persuasion Knowledge Model provides a framework both to understand the reactions of the public and to facilitate communication between academic researchers and practitioners.