L5: Behavioral Insights

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Insights into people’s behaviours are obtained through the application of behavioral and social sciences, anthropology, cognitive sciences and psychology, among others. When seeking behavioural evidence, these disciplines work together to identify which factors and biases will increase the probability that a behavior occurs or not.  When used to improve policies and programmes, behavioural insights can inform the design of innovative processes and practices; help reframe and improve communications; identify the need for nudges to overcome biases and barriers; or ensure that products and services are designed keeping users’ need in mind.

If you want to learn more, I suggest you read the manual of the BASIC Toolkit (available on the OECD iLibrary).

Please watch the following video “The Rise of Experimental Government and Behavioural Science in Policy” by David Halpern, Chief Executive and Board Director of the Behavioural Insights Team, otherwise known as the “Nudge Unit” [from min 5:02 to min 1:00:00].

Please now answer Assignment 5 based on the reading for this lecture.

Deadline: Wednesday, September 23, at 15:15.

Suggested answers available here after the deadline.

Please connect to my Zoom (link in Absalon) on Wednesday, September 23, at 15:15


I will summarize the main ideas of this lecture and I will asnwer your questions.

After that you will have time to work online with your group. See below.

Group Work: Relevant Phenomena, Principles and Concepts (go to Activity)

To design an appropriate intervention, you should exploit the knowledge you have acquired during the course. Make a linkage between the decision map, the bottlenecks and the most relevant concepts seen during the course.

Define and explain the phenomena, concepts and tools that are important for your analysis, and provide a linkage to how they fit together.

Together with your group, you have to fill the corresponding cell of this Google Spreadsheet. Deadline: before next lecture.

Summary for this lecture:

  • Behavioral Insights highlight that the interplay between the context and our psychological quirks can have a surprisingly powerful effect on our behavior.
  • Behavioral Insights propose simple but powerful tools that policy makers can use to design more effective policies and prevent unwanted consequences.
  • We need to approach every problem with a thorough analysis of the specific context and identify common snags – things that can trip us up.
  • The effectiveness of every interventions has to be tested by conducting rigorous experiments before scaling them up.

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