NEW YORK and LONDON, 23 MARCH 2023 – The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) is proud to announce the publication of “A Manifesto for Applying Behavioral Science.” This major work marks a turning point for applied behavioral science, the use of which has increased rapidly to address a wide range of real-world issues.
The Manifesto’s proposals set out a vision for the work of practitioners, clients, academics and funders to improve the scope, methods and values of applied behavioral science. An edited preview of the Manifesto was published on 20 March in one of the most respected peer-reviewed journals in the field, Nature Human Behaviour.
The Manifesto is the product of two years’ research and was authored by Dr. Michael Hallsworth. A long-time BIT employee and now Managing Director of the company’s Americas region, he is a leading figure in the field, with a highly accomplished track record of peer-reviewed research and behavioral science projects in multiple countries and contexts.
The Manifesto takes on board the challenges facing behavioral science and responds by setting out 10 proposals to fulfill its potential for improving lives and societies:
- Use behavioral science as a lens that can help us see all issues better, rather than as a tool for limited challenges.
- Build behavioral science into the design of organizations’ standard processes, to give it scale and sustainability.
- Step back, understand the system, and use behavioral science to make targeted changes that lead to wider results.
- Improve randomized controlled trials to better deal with the complexity of the real world.
- Approaches successful in one context can fail in another – find out why, and how we can adapt them better.
- Don’t just think about biases in behavior – aim for practical theories that offer reliable ways of solving real-world problems.
- Predict what people will do, confront when you were wrong, and change your views accordingly.
- Be humble about what you know, more curious about why people do things, and help others use behavioral science to improve their own lives.
- Use data science to identify, understand and reduce inequities.
- Be realistic – recognize that behavioral scientists always bring their own values to whatever they do, and help the field to broaden its range of perspectives.
David Halpern, CEO of BIT, said: “The new Manifesto is a timely reflection and call to action. We hope it will prove to be an important milestone in the story of applied behavioral science. Many of us involved in the field are proud of what has been accomplished but know deep down that we’ve only really begun to scratch the surface of how a better understanding of human behavior can help deliver positive changes. Michael has mapped the current challenges and opportunities in the field, and bridged from them to an impressive practical and actionable guide. Within BIT – the original ‘Nudge Unit’! – the Manifesto also reflects how we are evolving what we do, and how we do it. For us, it is not just a manifesto – it is an action plan.”
Michael Hallsworth said: “The popularity of behavioral science exploded in the last decade. In the next decade it can do much more to benefit individuals, organizations, and society – but changes are needed to make that happen. We’ve set out 10 practical proposals that form a cohesive vision for the future of behavioral science.”
The summary in Nature Human Behaviour is available here: https://rdcu.be/c73lp.
The full report “A Manifesto for Applying Behavioral Science” is free to download now at www.bi.team/publications/a-manifesto-for-applying-behavioral-science/.
Dr. Hallsworth’s previous work has been published in, among others, The Lancet, the Journal of Public Economics and Nature Human Behaviour. He is the author of the book “Behavioral Insights” (MIT Press, 2020). Michael holds a PhD in behavioral economics from Imperial College London, and a First Class MA and MPhil from the University of Cambridge. He has held positions at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Imperial College London.