OPINION2 February 2010

Rational behaviour

In this Guardian article from last week, shadow chancellor George Osborne shares a byline with Nudge author Richard Thaler.

The Tories are big on behavioural science and Thaler is clearly perfectly happy to align himself with them. “We are working together to formulate a series of public policies,” the pair write, and the ideas they have in mind present a hell of an opportunity for research.

The article reveals that under a Tory government, public bodies carrying out marketing campaigns would be required to state how they intend to change behaviour, and that a portion of the ad agency’s fee will be contingent on achieving the desired outcome.

That’s a pretty ringing endorsement of behavioural economics and social psychology, the academic disciplines that have provided the models for how behaviour can be influenced. The Tories are pinning their hopes on this science to provide a framework for ensuring and measuring effectiveness in their communications. The COI is already in the process of developing an organisation-wide approach to embedding behavioural theory in everything it does.

It’s an approach that could transform how research is used and how much it is valued.


1 Comment

14 years ago

This is definitely an area in the public sector which offers future opportunities to Research. We're seeing more and more briefs in this area. Check the recent COI podcast / report here: http://coi.gov.uk/aboutcoi.php?page=328

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