Making a Difference: Behavioral Insights and Public Policy

In a blog adapted from Samantha Power’s keynote address at the launch of UN Behavioral Sciences Week 2021, the USAID Administrator describes how behavioral insights are impacting international development and argues that behavioral science should play a greater role as organizations like USAID develop their programming. To make progress, she says, policymakers have to understand human behavior, not on the basis of intuitions, but using new findings and concrete data. We must learn how the people we hope to serve act (or do not act) in response to everyday challenges. And rather than making assumptions or applying what works in one culture to another, we need to gather evidence and data from the specific communities in which we serve … More Making a Difference: Behavioral Insights and Public Policy

Why Trust Matters

The history of civilisation is really the story of how we leaned to trust. In this blog Ben Ho considers research showing how fear brings people together and builds trust of outsiders. Through experiments in South Korea during the Covid pandemic it was possible to record feelings of fear and acceptance of outsiders. Those with the most fear recorded the highest increases in trust. How we respond to fear can give us hope for the future. … More Why Trust Matters

What’s in it for me?

Opponents are not monsters, but humans with legitimate needs. There is no ‘correct’ worldview warns Tom Prosser, and an understanding of the self-interest within all of them is important to confronting division, civilising politics, and making the most of our beseiged democratic institutions. There is no shame in self-interest. … More What’s in it for me?

Moments, not Minutes: The nature-wellbeing link

In “moments not minutes” Miles Richardson explains how research shows the value to wellbeing from connecting and engaging with nature in simple ways. Simply spending time in nature has limited impact, but actually noticing the good things in nature has sustained benefits. These finding should guide policy programmes and urban design, to help people notice nature around them. … More Moments, not Minutes: The nature-wellbeing link

Pandemic Optimism: Realistic v Hopeful

Optimism encompasses a ‘positive anchoring’ in risk decision making. This can be a coping mechanism to overcome the anxiety of risk in a pandemic. However, this is only true when people adopt a form of ‘realistic optimism’, which should be distinguished from ‘hopeful optimism’. Behavioural interventions can play a role in building realistic optimism in people before they are hit by a pandemic. … More Pandemic Optimism: Realistic v Hopeful

Complex Problems need Complex Science

Many of today’s most ambitious policy goals involve complex systems. The ‘behavioural revolution’ in public policy means that behavioural science is playing a big role in endeavours to achieve these goals. The interplay of behavioral science and complex systems, however, warrants enhanced consideration. In this blog Katelyn Stenger makes the case for collaboration between behavioural science and complex systems science. … More Complex Problems need Complex Science