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
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
The design of everyday space has important effects. It impacts on the the exercise of the most basic human rights. In this blog the authors report on experiments in the impact of urban design on women’s freedom and confidence to move through and access public space without fear. … More On the Design of Everyday Space: Closing the gender gap
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?
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
The IBPPA launched in April 2021 in partnership with the journal. Membership brings a range of opportunities and tangible benefits. Find out the launch, future plans, and how to join. … More International Behavioural Public Policy Association
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
Economics is often described as insular from other social sciences. Alexandre Truc shares the results of research mapping thee content of more than 5000 articles and their references. The research reveals fascinating trends and differences between the various clusters of behavioural economic research. This includes a shift towards greater diversity of disciplines involved in behavioural economics, and thus a relative decline in the role for psychology. Nevertheless, the research shows that the rise of behavioural economics has served more generally as a bridge for the psychology into economics. … More Has Behavioural Economics made Economics less insular?
Erik Angner and Gustaf Arrhenius explain the context of Sweden’s response to COVID-19, seen as straying well away from the mainstream. They argue that every country faces the same uncertainties in the coronavirus pandemic. Responses are framed by local constitutional and cultural norms, and by other factors including behavioural insights. In this Sweden is no different, but its strategy is set by its experts not by politicians. … More The Swedish Exception?
Uni students whose education choices are driven by intrinsic motivation perform better than those driven by financial return. @L_Bunce shows how marketised education may bring new challenges for policymakers and educators. … More Learning v. Earning
Why do people listen to some messengers and ignore others, even when they are saying exactly the same thing? In this summary of their new book, Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks argue that the trait-judgments we make about others influence how likely we are to be receptive to what a messenger has to say. … More The Messenger is the Message
Reciprocity can be found everywhere and has roots that predate human kind. In this summary of his new book Adam Oliver argues that this important component of motivation has been given insufficient attention in the design of public policy interventions. … More Don’t be an Egoist! On the Importance of Reciprocity in Public Policy
Are there biological differences behind gender differences in risk-aversion? Elaine Liu reports on a study of the impact of childhood socialisation. … More Social Norms and gendered risk attitudes
How does social change happen? Cass Sunstein explores the role of social norms – their power and their fragility … More How change happens
Pierre Chandon, L’Oreal Chaired Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Creativity, INSEAD and Director of the INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab I was about to give a talk at the Harvard School of Public Health when a distinguished nutritionist came to me and told me that he believed that the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, General Mills, … More Epicurean Nudging: Pleasure as a path to healthier eating
In a February 2018 LSE lecture on climate change Cass Sunstein highlighted a problem of “solution aversion”; the phenomenon that people deny problems when averse to solutions. Titled, ‘Solution aversion: On the relation between ideology and motivated disbelief,’ and written by then PhD student Troy Campbell and Professor Aaron Kay the paper became Duke University’s most viewed research press release when it was released in 2014. In this blog, Troy Campbell, now a professor at the University of Oregon, explains the problematic phenomena, the nuances, extensions, and the many potential solutions to solution aversion. https://today.duke.edu/2014/11/mediasolutions … More Solution Aversion
Cass Sunstein and Lucia Reisch argue that the design of everyday things can be taken as a guidebook for policymakers; simplicity and intuitiveness of design lead to “sludge reduction” … More Reducing Sludge at Six
Maya-Bar-Hillel and Cass Sunstein explore problems of navigability: Humans do not know how to get to their preferred destination. Much work in behavioral economics (including that by 2017 Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler) can be seen as an exploration of the challenges that people face in navigating complex situations, and the imperfect strategies they develop to meet those challenges. The Grand Hotel in Stockholm, which plays annual host to the Nobel laureates and many of their guests, lives up to its name, but in illuminating ways, creates problems of navigability for those who stay there. This essay, written by two of Richard Thaler’s guests, explores some of those problems, with general observations about choice architecture, bathroom design, heterogeneity, and navigability. … More Baffling bathrooms: On navigability and choice architecture
By Richard H. Thaler – University of Chicago
When the editors of this journal asked me to write a commentary on a new paper by George Loewenstein and Nick Chater I did not expect that I would have anything useful to say. After all, I have known George for longer than we would care to admit, and we mostly share similar worldviews. Nonetheless, after reading their paper, and after trying and failing to sort things out in person, I found myself left with enough differences of opinion that it seemed worth writing something up. With one exception … More Much Ado About Nudging
Carbon pricing is a useful tool in tackling the future consequences of climate change. But it imposes direct costs on the public. Goran Dominioni and Anna Kovacs suggest some of the ways in which behavioural carbon pricing strategies are being used to build stronger public support and propose additional approaches using behavioural economics … More Building Public Support for Carbon Pricing
Wei proposes a “Pay or Pledge” choice for gamblers. By creating a new “game within the game” gamblers would be helped to think about their game plans and stick to them. The blog is based on Wei’s 2020 prize-winning essay at the LSE … More Pay or Pledge: Winning in Gambling
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