What is Behaviour Science?
Behaviour science is a broad term covering a range of disciplines including psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and behavioural economics. Behavioural science is focused on understanding how people react and respond to different interventions, environments and a range of stimuli. Understanding how psychology influences behaviour and vice versa can help organisations implement sustained behavioural change through well thought through policy interventions.
Behavioural Science has a strong track record of success in public services. Initially created as a small team during David Cameron’s government, what was known as the ‘Nudge’ Unit focused on developing and implementing small interventions to deliver significant change – with a financial impact too. Changes in public policy include increasing pension auto enrollment participation, increased numbers of pupils accepted from unrepresented school in top universities and increases in the number of people paying tax on time.
Thanks to the work of this team, the interest in Behaviour Science has increased. We have curated resources on how it is being specifically used to inform the current response to Covid-19, but also other applications to help you think through how you can use it in your own organisations beyond Covid-19.
Understanding why we panic and ignore advice
Inevitably, in these unprecedented times, we can expect that some people will panic. Sadly we have seen disappointing scenes of panic buying and this has only served to highlight the importance of supporting our vulnerable people. Panic is as deadly a killer as this dreadful virus has proven to be and it will only increase the burden on our organisations.
Behavioural science can often be counter-intuitive. As an example, one way of reducing panic buying is not to show empty shelves in a supermarket but rather full shelves.
There are some useful articles that can help us understand what is happening.
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Disclaimer: PPMA is a membership association for public service HR & OD professionals. We do not attempt to provide scientific analysis or interpretation. Our aim with these pages is to provide the most comprehensive view of available and relevant Co-vid 19 resources for our community. We will keep these materials as up to date as resources permit.