“Behavioural insights”, or insights derived from the behavioural and social sciences, including decision making, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, organisational and group behaviour, are being applied by governments with the aim of making public policies work better. As their use has become more widespread, however, questions are being raised about their effectiveness as well as their philosophical underpinnings. This report discusses the use and reach of behavioural insights, drawing on a comprehensive collection of over 100 applications across the world and policy sectors, including consumer protection, education, energy, environment, finance, health and safety, labour market policies, public service delivery, taxes and telecommunications. It suggests ways to ensure that this experimental approach can be successfully and sustainably used as a public policy tool.
- 01 Mar 2017
Foreword and acknowledgements
“Behavioural insights” lessons derived from the behavioural and social sciences, including decision making, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, organisational and group behaviour are being applied by governments with the aim of making public policies work better. As behavioural insights increasingly contribute to shaping and implementing public policies, questions are being raised about the effectiveness as well as the philosophical underpinnings of some of these applications. Can small-scale experiments be scaled up and applied widely? Can policies based on the use of behavioural insights stand the test of time? How can unethical uses of behavioural insights be avoided? Can behavioural insights make inroads into policy areas beyond consumer policy, which has so far witnessed the largest application of behavioural insights?