So what counts as the “right” kind of problem for behavioral science to solve? Put more bluntly: How might our sense about what we should solve, or even what qualifies as a problem worth solving, be biased by how we think about what we can solve?
Given the central role of anger in shaping adversarial policy preferences in the context of intergroup conflict, its reduction may promote conflict resolution. In the current work, we drew on psycholinguistic research on the role of language in generating emotions to explore a novel, extremely subtle means of intervention. Specifically, we hypothesized that phrasing conflict-relevant policies in noun form (vs. verb form) would reduce anger and impact policy support correspondingly. Results across three experimental studies in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict supported these expectations for both support for concessions (Studies 1–3) and retaliatory policies (Study 3), with reduction in anger mediating the salutary impact of noun form (vs. verb form) on policy support. These results expand our understanding of the influence of language on emotions and policies in the context of conflict and have applied relevance for conflict-resolution efforts. (1) (PDF) A Rose by Any Other Name? A Subtle Linguistic Cue Impacts Anger and Corresponding Policy Support in Intractable Conflict. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322150387_A_Rose_by_Any_Other_Name_A_Subtle_Linguistic_Cue_Impacts_Anger_and_Corresponding_Policy_Support_in_Intractable_Conflict [accessed May 02 2019].
Use of natural language to represent behaviour-change theories has resulted in lack of clarity and consistency, hindering com-parison, integration, development and use. This paper describes development of a formal system for representing behaviour-change theories that aims to improve clarity and consistency. A given theory is represented in terms of (1) its component constructs (for example, ‘self-efficacy’, ‘perceived threat’ or ‘subjective norm’), which are labelled and defined, and (2) rela-tionships between pairs of constructs, which may be causal, structural or semantic. This formalism appears adequate to rep-resent five commonly used theories (health belief model, information–motivation–behavioural skill model, social cognitive theory, theory of planned behaviour and the trans-theoretical model).
To ensure these partnerships are beneficial to all involved—companies, employees, customers, and researchers—behavioral scientists need a set of ethical standards for conducting research in companies. To address this need, we created The Behavioral Scientist’s Ethics Checklist. In the checklist, we outline six key principles and questions that behavioral scientists and companies should ask themselves before beginning their research. To illustrate how each principle operates in practice, we provide mini case studies highlighting the challenges other researchers and companies have faced.
To gain a better understanding of how to build a successful nudge unit, we recently talked to 14 experts who have led initiatives in sectors from financial services and healthcare to advertising and retail (see sidebar, “Fourteen experts forging the future”). Most stressed that while nudging is a catchy term, it does not do full justice to the broad applications of behavioral science to the businesses for which they and their units are responsible. Behavioral science, for instance, encompasses debiasing and other tools for driving behavioral change, including incentives, education, and awareness.
Although heuristics may not always give the most accurate judgment in social situations, avoiding them is usually not an option. Social heuristics are innate in us, to help us make sense of complex social interactions. Nonetheless, it is crucial to bear in mind that an overreliance on heuristics can potentially result in judgment errors that manifest themselves as social stereotypes.
This report is a summary of the work of the Behavioural Insights Team and its partners from September 2017 to November 2018. It includes highlights from our six offices around the world – in London, Manchester, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Wellington. We also cover our growing portfolio of BI Ventures, products that draw on behavioural insights to make positive social impact.
This report aims to capture both the spread and form of behavioral science in 10 countries, selected based on being innovators or early adopters in the field: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and the UK. We hope that the experiences of these ten countries – including information on As of November 2018, there are at least 202 public entities all over the world applying behavioral insights to their policies (OECD, 2018) COUNTRY PROFILES - INTRODUCTION — 07 — how public bodies within these countries are integrating behavioral insights, how they are working to apply behavioral insights, and how these behavioral functions have been structured and staffed – can serve as useful information for all those working to leverage behavioral science to improve society. Given the expansion of behavioral science within governments; the shifting behavioral insights landscape; and the limit to, and wide distribution of, public information; this report presents a representative snapshot of the state of behavioral science within the governments of the profiled countries.
Often, there's a disproportionate focus on pre-existing attitudes or other exogenous factors explaining why behavioural interventions may not work. In other words, attitudes or other factors got in the way of the intervention being effective. But that's not necessarily the case, as this study suggests. Instead, it might be the nature of the intervention itself which blocks the behaviour (change).
To provide an overview of the different characteristics of narratives in health effects research and of the persuasive effects that were found, we review 153 experimental studies on health-related narrative persuasion with a focus on the narrative stimuli. The results show that: a) with regard to the content, showing the healthy behavior in a narrative (as opposed to the unhealthy behavior with negative consequences) may be associated with effects on intention. Narratives that contain high emotional content are more often shown to have effects. b) With regard to the form, for print narratives, a first-person perspective is a promising characteristic in light of effectiveness. c) With regard to the context, an overtly persuasive presentation format does not seem to inhibit narrative persuasion. And d) other characteristics, like character similarity or the presentation medium of the narrative, do not seem to be promising characteristics for producing health effects. In addition, fruitful areas for further research can be found in the familiarity of the setting and the way a health message is embedded in the narrative. Because of the diversity of narrative characteristics and effects that were found, continued research effort is warranted on which characteristics lead to effects. The present review provides an overview of the evidence for persuasive narrative characteristics so far.
The objective of this review was to summarize the literature supporting narrative interventions that target health-promoting behaviours. Eligible articles were English-language peer-reviewed studies that quantitatively reported the results of a narrative intervention targeting health-promoting behaviours or theoretical determinants of behaviour. Five public health and psychology databases were searched. A total of 52 studies met inclusion criteria. In all, 14 studies found positive changes in health-promoting behaviours after exposure to a narrative intervention. The results for the changes in theoretical determinants were mixed. While narrative appears to be a promising intervention strategy, more research is needed to determine how and when to use these interventions.
Narrative is the basic mode of human interaction and a fundamental way of acquiring knowledge. In the rapidly growing field of health communication, narrative approaches are emerging as a promising set of tools for motivating and supporting health-behavior change. This article defines narrative communication and describes the rationale for using it in health-promotion programs, reviews theoretical explanations of narrative effects and research comparing narrative and nonnarrative approaches to persuasion, and makes recommendations for future research needs in narrative health communication.
When you tell donors they can “feed hungry children”, “stop human trafficking” or “give twice the hope”, you make them the hero. This engages a “storytelling switch” that triggers a rush of cortisol and oxytocin throughout their body: Cortisol focuses your attention on a problem that needs solving (feeding hungry children). Oxytocin magnifies your feelings of empathy, caring, and love. Can brain chemistry really increase fundraising results? Short answer: Yes. Every. Single. Time. Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry. – Paul Zak In fact, the release of these two chemicals are actually predictors of giving behavior. Stories increase fundraising results! Researchers in one study concluded is that story structure (hook, problem, payoff) kicks off the chemistry associated with giving.
Overall, our research showed that the cognitive mechanisms of goal contagion might not be sufficient to elicit prosocial behavior in a person observing every day helping. Even though observers inferred the prosocial goal, they did not act on it when given the opportunity. For now, it remains unclear whether goal contagion is limited to specific kinds of goals—not including a prosocial goal—or whether other factors hindered the effect in our studies.
Individuals viewed calendars showing today as the first day versus a control. • Goal motivation increased if today matched the first day on a calendar. • Individuals made more self-reported progress towards personal goals if calendar matched.
David Oliver wins gift cards for staying away from drugs. At St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia — which treats more overdoses than any other hospital in Canada — a program rewards users of cocaine and other stimulants with prizes when they don’t use. It’s a new approach to help substance abusers, and it’s also being tried in Veterans Affairs hospitals across the United States.
When it comes to motivating people to vote, identity theory is influential. Studies have shown us that how we refer to people ahead of a vote can influence their likelihood to vote. In short, if we use a noun (a ‘voter’) rather than a verb (‘to vote’), we can see double digit increases in voter turn-out. To be clear, this is one of the largest effects identified in a large-scale field experiment — an uptick of over 10%, simply as a result of reframing the request to use the vote. Identity theory tells us this happens because the noun version (‘a voter’) speaks to our self-concept; wanting to align with what society expects of us, increases the likelihood of us engaging in that behaviour. It’s an opportunity for positive distinctiveness.
Based on their comprehensive review of available research, Duckworth, Milkman, and Laibson propose a framework that organizes evidence-based self-control strategies along two dimensions based on how the strategies are implemented and who is initiating them. They observe that in some cases the best self-control strategy involves us changing the situation to create incentives or obstacles that help us exercise self-control, such as using apps that restrict our phone usage or keeping junk food out of the house. In other cases it’s more effective to change how we think about the situation — for example, by making an if-then plan to anticipate how we’ll deal with treats in the office — so that exercising self-control becomes more appealing or easier to accomplish. Other strategies work better when someone else implements them for us. For example, our electricity company might use social norms to prompt a change in our thinking, showing us how our energy usage compares with that of our neighbors. And policymakers often use situational constraints to prompt behavior focused on the long-term. Examples range from incentives (e.g., tax rebates for eco-friendly building materials) to penalties (e.g., raising taxes on cigarettes and alcohol). Employers are increasingly using another type of situational constraint, defaults, to encourage employees to save for retirement; many are requiring people to opt out of an employer-provided retirement plan if they don’t want to participate.
Giving advice, as opposed to receiving it, appears to help unmotivated people feel powerful because it involves reflecting on knowledge that they already have. So if you’re completely clueless about the resources or strategies necessary for progress, asking for help is probably the best first step. But if you (like most of us), know what you need to do, but are having trouble actually doing it, giving someone advice may be the push you need.
In a study, the researchers said that smokers who had limited familiarity with information technology were more likely to consider antismoking messages manipulative and boring when they browsed those messages on a website with interactive features, such as sliders, mouseovers and zooming tools.
short video re: different modes of decisionmaking
This article reports on new research that finds certain messages reduce fear of sharks, key to promoting conservation-minded responses to shark bites. Here it is argued that the sophistication in public feelings toward these highly emotional events has allowed new actors to mobilize and given rise to the ‘Save the Sharks’ movement. In a unique experiment coupling randomly assigned intent-based priming messages with exposure to sharks in a ‘shark tunnel’, a potential path to reduce public fear of sharks and alter policy preferences is investigated. Priming for the absence of intent yielded significant fear extinction effects, providing a viable means of increasing support for non-lethal policy options following shark bite incidents. High levels of pride and low levels of blame for bite incidents are also found. In all, this article provides a step towards improving our understanding of fear and fear reduction in public policy.
The Subtask 8 deliverable was to create a testable toolbox for behaviour change interventions: • A description and evaluation of the validity and effectiveness of the Collective Impact Approach in the energy arena, as a peer-reviewed paper (Rotmann, 2016 and 2017a, Cobben 2017). • A Decision-making Tree that enables Behaviour Changers to better utilise the findings of ST1 & 2 • A peer-reviewed paper on the impact of storytelling in energy research (Rotmann, 2017b; Moezzi, Janda and Rotmann, 2017; Rotmann, 2018). • A collection of sector stories from each Behaviour Changer (see ST6 Final reports & Rotmann, 2017b) • This includes a list of behavioural intervention tools each Behaviour Changer has at their disposal in each of their national and sectoral contexts (see Task 24 workshop minutes and ST6 Final reports). • Continued testing and development of evaluation tools created in ST 3 & 9 (Rotmann and Chapman, 2018). • Testable toolbox for national Behaviour Changers (when choosing to take part in ST11, see Cowan et al 2017 and 2018) and/or synthesis of internationally-valid tools to feed into the Overarching Story
Week 1 When Everything Looks Like a Nail: Building Better “Behavioral Economics” Teams By Jason Collins Nudges Alone Won’t Save Nemo: Conservation in the Great Barrier Reef By John Pickering From Ph.D. to Policy: Facilitating Connections Between Junior Scholars and Policymakers By Ashley Whillans and Heather Devine Shouldn’t We Make It Easy to Use Behavioral Science for Good? By Manasee Desai RCTs Are Not (Always) the Answer By Tania Ramos and João Matos Week 2 Why Governments Need to Nudge Themselves By Michael Hallsworth and Mark Egan Behavioral Development Economics By Syon Bhanot and Aishwarya Deshpande Why Governments Should Treat Cybersecurity the Way They Do Infectious Diseases By Karen Renaud and Stephen Flowerday Pour One Out for Nudge’s Forgotten Peers By Jesse Dashefsky Helping Parents Follow Through By Nadav Klein, Keri Lintz, Ariel Kalil, and Susan E. Mayer Week 3 A New Model for Integrating Behavioral Science and Design By Sarah Reid and Ruth Schmidt Applying Behavioral Science Upstream in the Policy Design Process By Kate Phillips Lessons in “Nudging” From the Developing World By Abigail Goodnow Dalton Choice Architecture 2.0: How People Interpret and Make Sense of Nudges By Job Krijnen What the Origins of the “1 in 5” Statistic Teaches Us About Sexual Assault Policy By Alexandra Rutherford BONUS Nudge Turns 10: A Q&A With Cass Sunstein By Elizabeth Weingarten Nudge Turns 10: A Q&A With Ricard Thaler By Evan Nesterak
Government policies and services can be hard to navigate for people who are already under pressure. By understanding the effects of scarcity, we can make these easier to access for the people who need them. https://bi.dpc.nsw.gov.au/blog/2018/12/13/a-guide-to-reducing-the-effects-of-scarcity/
Whenever you're trying to change a behavior, you should ask yourself the following four questions: 1. Am I clearly prompting the target person to do the behavior I want? 2. Is the behavior really hard to do? 3. Is the target person motivated to do the behavior I want them to do? 4. Am I rewarding the target person for doing the behavior? That's it. That's your behavior-design checklist.