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Behavioural Insights Team publishes Review for 2021-2022

New report showcases the team’s most impactful work around the world over the last two years

  • Press release
  • 6th Dec 2022

LONDON, 6 DECEMBER 2022 – The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the original Nudge Unit, has today published its latest Review, providing a comprehensive update of its work around the world during 2021 and 2022.

The review highlights work from around the world across Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and Oceania in all the areas of BIT’s expertise, ranging from peace building projects in Nigeria, training school leaders in Guatemala and supporting domestic migrant workers in Singapore, to understanding the behaviours that drive panic buying, encouraging more sustainable commuting and designing road junctions to reduce dangerous driving. 

The digital report is now available to read and download at https://www.bi.team/our-work/publications/bit-review-2020-2021/ and includes highlights such as:

  • Major randomised control trials (RCTs) in the UK to promote flexible working with almost 100,000 employers posting over 780,000 job adverts that received 19 million applications. The proportion of job ads with flexible options increased by 17-20% and attracted 19-30% more applicants. If this change was extended across the UK it would add an estimated 174,000 flexible jobs
  • A project in Bangladesh on public handwashing stations. Handwashing is very effective at reducing the incidences of the top two killers of young children worldwide and BIT’s successful intervention if rolled out nationwide would result in an estimated 540 million more handwashes across Bangladesh.
  • Continuing BIT’s successes in reducing the overprescription of antibiotics in a project in New Zealand that reduced prescribing by 9.2% overall while crucially not reducing prescriptions among Maori and Pacific patients. (Māori and Pacific people are historically at higher risk of infectious diseases and greater risk of under-prescription by GPs.)
  • Testing COVID-19 vaccine appointment text messages in the UK. The best performing SMS was rolled out to over 7 million people nationwide, leading to an estimated additional 42,000 first-dose vaccinations being received within 14 days.
  • Developing ways to increase likelihood of criminal charges being brought in cases of intimate partner violence in Chile that if scaled nationally would see charges brought in an additional 6,500 cases per year
  • An RCT in France that simulated ‘scamming’ consumers in a safe environment to help them learn how they had been tricked. The team estimates that this promising approach can cut susceptibility to online scams by half.

Alongside these and many other successful projects, the BIT Review 2021-22 also continues BIT’s tradition of including trials and interventions that did not work. As committed empiricists, BIT recognises that it is just as important to share the disappointments along with the good outcomes.

David Halpern, BIT CEO said: “This latest review shows the sheer range of issues and geographies where behavioural insights are now being harnessed to improve outcomes, services and lives. Adopting the humility of testing and empiricism can benefit almost every domain in life. Humans, societies and economies are complex and often even the best seeming ideas don’t play out as expected.”

Ravi Gurumurthy, Chair of BIT and CEO of Nesta said: “Over the last decade, BIT has led the application of behavioural science across the world, designing and testing solutions that have changed the lives of millions of people. With BIT’s partners across the public, private and non-profit sectors, the team continues to evolve the field of behavioural science – tackling the defining challenges facing societies, from net zero and productivity to public health.”