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The Behavioural Insights Team, the world’s first Nudge Unit, is now 10 years old.

In that time there have been a lot of nudges, a lot of interventions using behavioural insights. They didn’t always work. We’ve never forgotten that we always have more to learn, but more than enough did succeed to demonstrate that we were better existing than not, and that our work really does make a positive difference. 

So how did we get here? And more importantly, where are we as BIT and behavioural science as a whole headed over the next 10 years? 

What are behavioural insights?

We are the Behavioural Insights Team. We apply behavioural insights to inform policy, improve public services and deliver positive results for people and communities.

But what exactly are ’behavioural insights’? Watch this short video to find out.

Our story

How did BIT get to where we are today? And what else was happening at the time?

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You can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem (podcast)

BIT has spent the past 10 years developing solutions that are informed by behavioural science. These insights do not emerge overnight. Instead, they are grounded in a firm understanding of the systems in which we operate. Reading academic papers is an important step in developing evidence-based interventions, but it will only get you so far if you want to understand the context in which you are aiming to implement an intervention.

Instead, we argue that you need to leave the office and try to experience the context as closely as you can, either by directly experiencing it or by directly speaking to the people who do. 

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Do nudges work?

BIT North America managing director Dr Michael Hallsworth in conversation with Dr Elizabeth Linos, assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, about her work looking into the effectiveness of nudges and applied behavioural science interventions.

BIT Canada’s first year: In conversation with BIT Canada director Sasha Tregebov

It’s been a wild year. Things have obviously not gone exactly to plan but from a BIT Canada perspective, it’s been a wonderful and gratifying 12 months. We’ve found many interesting partners to collaborate with and projects to work on. We’ve completed six or seven projects with another eight or so currently underway, and have been able to work across numerous issues that really matter to Canadians, the public sector and non-profit organisations across the country.

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Creating‌ ‌‌evidence-based‌ ‌government‌ (podcast)

In this podcast, Alex Gyani in Sydney and Alex Sutherland in London discuss what being a fully evidence-based government means and how we can get there. We start by discussing what it means to be evidence based, then highlight how BIT has been able to run trials at scale and how ‘nudge’ trials compare to those run in academia. Finally, we look to the future, the promise of machine learning and how AI might be able to help human decision-making.

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10‌ ‌lessons‌ ‌from‌ ‌setting‌ ‌up‌ ‌BIT‌ ‌ France‌

BIT might be 10 this year, but it’s been far from 10 years of the same. BIT’s history has been marked by many new beginnings – the opening of BIT France being just one of them. Not only is this our first office in continental Europe, but it is also our first office in a non-English-speaking country and a new beginning for our freshly formed little team.

What this means is that we’ve had to leave the laurels behind and question everything again: What makes us valuable? Where can we best contribute? How should we adapt our methods? How should we function as a team? What skills are we missing? And trust us: these questions barely scratch the surface...

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Media evaluation

Human beings are natural storytellers. Add in the ubiquity and reach of today’s mass media and you have a force that is almost unparalleled in its ability to affect the way people from all walks of life and all cultures think and behave.

But, while we can all intuitively understand this notion of the power of stories and media, a search for rigorous evidence to support it and its real-world impacts turns up little. We feel that BIT’s work can help to rectify this.

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