OPINION15 June 2023

Crawford Hollingworth: The adult years of behavioural science

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Impact columnist Crawford Hollingworth on why behavioural science has reached its adult years and what this means for industry and society.

black and white photo of woman shopping in supermarket

We are living through an era rapidly becoming known as a ‘permacrisis’, an unholy combination of crippling costs of living, supply chain constraints, pandemic aftermath, increase in chronic health problems and, lastly – and most critically – climate change emergency. We will need all the tools in the box to tackle these.

One ray of hope is that applied behavioural science is reaching its adult years, with greater ability to understand behaviour at both a meta and micro level, and, through this understanding, to influence and change behaviour.

There are three transitions behavioural science is making in its maturity.

Behaviour in context

There is increased recognition of the importance of a deep understanding of behaviour in context before leaping into action. In other words, it’s not all about nudging.

As behavioural science has been scaled and applied in many different contexts, researchers have increasingly recognised how critical it is to take time to gain a fully realised understanding of behaviour in a context, and ...