Most organizations spend much of their effort on the start of the value creation process: namely, creating a strategy, developing new products or services, and analyzing the market. They pay a lot less attention to the end: the crucial “last mile” where consumers come to their website, store, or sales representatives and make a choice.
In The Last Mile, Dilip Soman shows how to use insights from behavioral science in order to close that gap. Beginning with an introduction to the last mile problem and the concept of choice architecture, the book takes a deep dive into the psychology of choice, money, and time. It explains how to construct behavioral experiments and understand the data on preferences that they provide. Finally, it provides a range of practical tools with which to overcome common last mile difficulties.
The Last Mile helps lay readers not only to understand behavioral science, but to apply its lessons to their own organizations’ last mile problems, whether they work in business, government, or the nonprofit sector. Appealing to anyone who was fascinated by Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge, or Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow but was not sure how those insights could be practically used, The Last Mile is full of solid, practical advice on how to put the lessons of behavioral science to work.
In the first part of the paper, the field of agent-based modeling (ABM) is discussed focusing on the role of generative theories, aiming at explaining phenomena by growing them. After a brief analysis of the major strengths of the field some crucial weaknesses are analyzed. In particular, the generative power of ABM is found to have been underexploited, as the pressure for simple recipes has prevailed and shadowed the application of rich cognitive models. In the second part of the paper, the renewal of interest for Computational Social Science (CSS) is focused upon, and several of its variants, such as deductive, generative, and complex CSS, are identified and described. In the concluding remarks, an interdisciplinary variant, which takes after ABM, reconciling it with the quantitative one, is proposed as a fundamental requirement for a new program of the CSS.
Junior academics and practitioners in the field of behavioural science are incredibly fortunate to benefit from the pioneering work of academics such as Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Cass Sunstein, Richard Thaler, Carol Dweck, Max Bazerman and Iris Bohnet, to name but a few.
The work that these eminent figures have done for the rest of us is difficult to overstate. They have laid the intellectual framework for our field, and worked to overcome the inherent suspicion and scepticism among established academics and practitioners. They have also mentored those who will follow after – my favourite example being a diagram displayed on the wall of my mentor Max Bazerman, showing the students he has trained, and those that they in turn have trained (the diagram was a gift from a former student, of course). The Russell Sage Foundation Summer Institute in Behavioral Economics, described by Richard Thaler in hisrecent book , has helped to shape the careers of such luminaries as David Laibson and Matthew Rabin.
As behavioural scientists become ever more active in applied areas like policy and business, this mentorship becomes all the more important. Researchers of the future will need more than ever the ability to work and communicate with an ever wider range of people, if their work is to address important policy problems and their solutions taken forward.
At BIT we are pleased to be part of this tradition and are excited to be part of two workshops for up and coming behavioural scientists in the next few months. In late August, Behavioral Insights Group (BIG) at Harvard is hosting a “BIG Ideas” workshop on their campus for young researchers which we will be participating in. A few days later on 1st September, we will be hosting a second workshop in London with members of our team, members of BIG including Max Bazerman, Michael Luca, Lisa Shu and staff from the UK public sector to explore the topic of “Impact, Experimentation and Behaviour” with doctoral students from across the world, in advance of the Behavioural Exchange 2015 conference later that week.
BSPA co-founder, Sim Sitkin, is attending The International Behavioural Insights Conference, BX2015, taking place in London this week.
Alongside Professor Sitkin, many of the best known names in behavioral science, including Daniel Kahneman, Dick Thaler, David Halpern, Robert Cialdini, and Dan Ariely will be featured on a number of panel discussions.
Test, Learn, Adapt is a collaboration between the Behavioural Insights Team, Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science, and David Torgerson, Director of the University of York Trials Unit.
The paper sets out a core aspect of the Behavioural Insights Team’s methodology. The paper argues that Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs), which are now widely used in medicine, international development, and internet-based businesses, should be used much more extensively in public policy to enable policymakers to test which interventions are most effective.
Test, Learn, Adapt also sets out nine separate steps that are required to set up any RCT. Many of these steps will be familiar to anyone putting in place a well-designed policy evaluation – for example, deciding in advance the outcome that we are seeking to achieve. Others are less familiar – for example, randomly allocating the intervention to control or intervention groups.
The paper won the Institute for Government’s ‘Inspiration for Government’ award following its publication.
The burgeoning field of social neuroscience has begun to illuminate the complex biological bases of human social cognitive abilities. However, in spite of being based on the premise of investigating the neural bases of interacting individuals, a majority of studies has focused on studying brains in isolation using paradigms that investigate “offline” social cognition, i.e., social cognition from an observer's point of view, rather than “online” social cognition, i.e., social cognition from an interactor's point of view. Consequently, the neural correlates of real-time social interaction have remained largely elusive and may—paradoxically—be seen to represent the “dark matter” of social neuroscience (Schilbach et al., 2013).
More recently, a growing number of researchers have begun to study social cognition from an interactor's point of view, based on the assumption that there is something fundamentally different when we are actively engaged with others in real-time social interaction as compared to when we merely observe them. Whereas for “offline” social cognition, interaction and feedback are merely a way of gathering data about the other person that feeds into processing algorithms “inside” the agent, it has been proposed that in “online” social interaction the knowledge of the other—at least in part—may reside in the interaction dynamics “between” the agents. Furthermore, being a participant in an interaction may entail a commitment toward being responsive created by important difference in the motivational foundations of “online” and “offline” social cognition.
Guitarists perform a kind of mind-meld when they play together, syncing their brainwaves to the extent that they can anticipate each other’s moves. They also switch off the outside world while playing, leaving them in a tiny universe of them and their music.
A study by researchers Johanna Sänger, Viktor Müller, and Ulman Lindenberger used guitarists to investigate joint action, or "tasks that require the close alignment (coordination) of one's own and the other's action in real time." Tasks like playing in a band or in a duet.
By measuring the brain activity of the players while they performed together, the studyfound that their brainwaves locked in sync. To preclude the possibility that just playing the same music would induce the same brain patterns in both players, the study used songs with two parts. Further, a leader and follower were assigned, one setting time and the other following.
Paradigms of sustainable exploitation focus on population dynamics of prey and yields to humanity but ignore the behavior of humans as predators. We compared patterns of predation by contemporary hunters and fishers with those of other predators that compete over shared prey (terrestrial mammals and marine fishes). Our global survey (2125 estimates of annual finite exploitation rate) revealed that humans kill adult prey, the reproductive capital of populations, at much higher median rates than other predators (up to 14 times higher), with particularly intense exploitation of terrestrial carnivores and fishes. Given this competitive dominance, impacts on predators, and other unique predatory behavior, we suggest that humans function as an unsustainable “super predator,” which—unless additionally constrained by managers—will continue to alter ecological and evolutionary processes globally.
Every day we make countless decisions, from the small, mundane things to tackling life's big questions, but we don't always make the right choices. Behavioural scientist Dr David Halpern heads up Number 10's 'Nudge Unit', the world's first government institution that uses behavioural economics to examine and influence human behaviour, to 'nudge' us into making better decisions. Seemingly small and subtle solutions have led to huge improvements across tax, healthcare, pensions, employment, crime reduction, energy conservation and economic growth. Adding a crucial line to a tax reminder brought forward millions in extra revenue; refocusing the questions asked at the job centre helped an extra 10 per cent of people come off their benefits and back into work; prompting people to become organ donors while paying for their car tax added an extra 100,000 donors to the register in a single year. After two years and dozens of experiments in behavioural science, the results are undeniable. And now David Halpern and the Nudge Unit will help you to make better choices and improve your life.
Social systems theory is dominated by a reductionistic individualism and a dualistic functionalism. Especially the latter doesn’t adequately integrate the human being. In order to avoid dualism, mechanistic determinism and reductionism, a dialectical concept of social systems that is based on the notion of self-organization seems necessary. In order to establish a dialectical theory of social self-organization it is appropriate to integrate aspects of Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory. Gidden’ acknowledges the importance of knowledgeable human actors in society and argues that structures are medium and outcome of actions. Structures both enable and constrain social actions. This idea corresponds to saying that social systems are re-creative, i.e. self-organising social systems. Re-creativity is based on the creative activities of human beings. Social structures exist in and through the productive practices and relationships of human actors. The term evolution can be employed in a non-functionalist way that acknowledges the importance of knowledgeable human actors in social systems by conceiving the historical development of society based on a dialectic of chance and necessity and the principle of order through fluctuation in situations of instability and bifurcation. All self-organising systems are information-generating systems. Giddens’ concept of storage mechanisms that allow time-space distanciation of social relationships helps to describe the relationship of information and self-organization in social systems.
Nudges are a growing concept in psychology that focus on how we can change human behavior by making small changes in how a choice is presented to us.
A “nudge” is any small change in how a choice is presented that can influence human behavior in a measurable and predictable way.
Nudges are a growing interest in psychology. They focus on how we can change people’s behaviors without the use of government mandates or economic incentives. Many organizations, including governments, businesses, schools, and nonprofits, are beginning to harness the power of “nudges” to influence people’s choices toward certain values and goals.
For example, one common illustration of a nudge is a cafeteria placing healthier food at “eye level” and junk foods at harder to see places. This small change in our environment actually influences people to choose healthier foods to eat.
The Last Mile: Creating Social and Economic Value from Behavioral Insights lays the foundation for how individuals and organizations can begin using the power of nudges to influence people’s choices in positive ways.
Nudges can come in many different types. Some are created by businesses to influence consumers, or governments to influence citizens, or a person can even impose a nudge on themselves to change their own behavior.
The Somerset Challenge brings together 38 of the 39 secondary schools in Somerset with a common vision of raising standards and combating the problems they face. The Somerset Challenge comissioned the Behavioural Insights Team to apply findings from behavioural science to problems faced in Somerset Schools.
As the world leading behavioural scientists gather in London to share new and remarkable results, a new book – Inside the Nudge Unit – urges we ‘nudge for good’, and all keep an eye on who nudges the nudgers.
This week, the world’s leading behavioural experts are gathering in the UK, together with representatives from more than 20 countries.
There is a growing recognition that almost every policy issue has a human, behavioural aspect at its core. The majority of healthy years of life lost are from behavioural factors: smoking, diet, exercise. Research also shows the impact on health of less obvious behavioural factors too: a new study released at the event shows how giving to charity lowers blood pressure as much as changing diet. Similarly, reducing global warming rests on both technical and lifestyle change; public services rest on people being honest and paying their taxes; and productivity rests as much on motivation and engagement as it does economic incentives.
The last 5 years have seen hard results from applying behavioural insights to policy. Millions more people are saving for pensions as a result of changing from an opt-in to opt-out system. Hundreds of thousands of have been helped back to work faster as a result of encouraging them to plan out the next week, instead of proving what they did in the previous one. And hundreds of millions in tax revenue has been brought forward by small changes in tax reminders, such as pointing out that most people pay on time.
Back in 2010, many thought it was a gimmick. Not many think that any more. Governments across the world are turning to behavioural insights, many creating ‘nudge units’ in the manner of the UK’s own Behavioural Insights Team, including the USA, Germany, Singapore, New South Wales, Canada, Israel and many more.
Welcome to BX2015 - the Behavioural Insights Conference 2015. Held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. September 2nd-3rd 2015.
Are you intellectually curious? Are you a good person? Many good, intellectually curious people participate in online surveys and experiments to help advance the field of behavioural science.
Participate in one of the studies below and turn your support into action!
The studies on this page will change over the coming months and weeks. Check back regularly as we will be adding new studies soon
In this survey you will be asked to give your opinion about wealth distributions and inequality. We are interested in your opinion on this topic! This survey is administered by researchers at Harvard University and takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.
Wealth Inequality CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE
We kindly ask you to only take each survey once. Having the same individual take the same survey more than once will bias the results.
You can also participate by submitting your application for our three BX2015 Awards which will take place on Day 2 of the Conference. Find out more and how you can apply.
Be suspicious of the menu design, and other tips from restaurant industry insiders.
When you make decisions at a restaurant, you're exercising your own free will: True or false?
Sorry to take away your agency, but the answer is mostly false. The second you walk into a dining establishment, you're being slowly influenced to order the things the restaurant makes the most money selling. There are two ways it happens. One is at the corporate level, where chains design the whole experience to milk you of your money and keep you coming back. This is the realm of enticing photographs on menus, color theory (some say red makes you feel hungrier) or of things like McDonald’s odd mix of inviting design (bright lights that entice you in) and annoying design (the same over-bright lights also make you eat up and get out, and those seats are uncomfortable for a reason).
The other is possibly more interesting, consisting of the tricks used by small establishments to make you spend more. And like any home-spun psychological theory, these techniques are a mixture of solid advice and hokum.
To further test and explore the hypothesis that synchronous oscillatory brain activity supports interpersonally coordinated behavior during dyadic music performance, we simultaneously recorded the electroencephalogram (EEG) from the brains of each of 12 guitar duets repeatedly playing a modified Rondo in two voices by C.G. Scheidler. Indicators of phase locking and of within-brain and between-brain phase coherence were obtained from complex time-frequency signals based on the Gabor transform. Analyses were restricted to the delta (1–4 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) frequency bands. We found that phase locking as well as within-brain and between-brain phase-coherence connection strengths were enhanced at frontal and central electrodes during periods that put particularly high demands on musical coordination. Phase locking was modulated in relation to the experimentally assigned musical roles of leader and follower, corroborating the functional significance of synchronous oscillations in dyadic music performance. Graph theory analyses revealed within-brain and hyperbrain networks with small-worldness properties that were enhanced during musical coordination periods, and community structures encompassing electrodes from both brains (hyperbrain modules). We conclude that brain mechanisms indexed by phase locking, phase coherence, and structural properties of within-brain and hyperbrain networks support interpersonal action coordination (IAC).
We propose a new abstract definition of equilibrium in the spirit of competitive equilibrium: a profile of alternatives and a public ordering (expressing prestige, price, or a social norm) such that each agent prefers his assigned alternative to all lower-ranked ones. The equilibrium operates in an abstract setting built upon a concept of convexity borrowed from convex geometry. We apply the concept to a variety of convex economies and relate it to Pareto optimality. The “magic” of linear equilibrium prices is put into perspective by establishing an analogy between linear functions in the standard convexity and “primitive orderings” in the abstract convexity. (JEL I11, I18, J44, K13)
How do you lead the type of large scale (or ‘compound’) collaborations needed to tackle truly wicked, large scale problems? In a recent post on the Policy and Politics Journal Blog Chris Ansell, from the University of California Berkley, discusses leadership for large scale collaborations. You can read his full article at the Journal, which he says is ‘essentially about “collaborations of collaborations.”
Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects were half the magnitude of original effects, representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with statistically significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.
This paper aims to describe the social studies of credit developed in France over the past dozen years. We argue that this French sociology of credit, mostly centered on France, can be useful for researchers analyzing other countries, with other institutional particularities, because it proposes a specific method and a specific way to raise questions: credit is mostly understood as a result of social interactions embedded in organizational and legal structures. French researchers also deeply analyze the consequences of the organization of the credit market for inequalities, social stratification, and people’s life experiences. The first part of the paper focuses on works that have examined credit as a social test, looking at the institutional, technical, and social frameworks of money lending. Then, credit is understood as a sociological experiment: how is it integrated into household economies? How do people use forms of credit? Finally, the third part concentrates on credit failure, when a bank loan becomes a debt. This aspect is mostly framed in French sociology as “over-indebtedness,” which is an administrative and a social category. Throughout the paper, we address credit as both a relationship and a practice. This approach is heuristic, as we seek to demonstrate, because it enables us to show that credit is a social and political issue.
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