Inside The Nudge Unit
Decarbonising our food, transport & energy

Decarbonising our food, transport & energy

November 8, 2021

In the second of a two-part climate change special, BIT’s Head of Energy & Sustainability, Toby Park, sits down with Cambridge University’s Professor Theresa Marteau, Moira Nicolson from the Cabinet Office and Valentine Quinio from the Centre for Cities to unpick three of the biggest areas we need to decarbonise to reach Net Zero by 2050: Food, Transport and Energy.

We know we cannot achieve Net Zero without behaviour change - the question is, how we can make it happen and devise effective solutions to decarbonise the way we produce and eat food, the way we travel and the way we heat and power our homes. 

Our guests discuss the barriers that prevent us from eating more sustainably, uptaking public transport and electric vehicles and switching to green energy suppliers; and the potential levers we can use to change the behaviours of individuals, corporations and governments.

Credits:

Production and editing by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m3zn3SHmMh3vuR13hkLCP?si=88ed700f455c4dc4

Can we nudge to Net Zero?

Can we nudge to Net Zero?

October 27, 2021

In the first of a two-part climate change special, BIT’s Lis Costa sits down with Nobel Prize Winner Professor Richard Thaler, Cambridge University’s Lucia A. Reisch and BIT CEO and founder Professor David Halpern to answer one big question ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference: Can we Nudge to Net Zero?

According to the Paris Agreement’s: Sixth Carbon Budget, in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, a 63% reduction in future emissions is required over the next decade or so. This is no mean feat! Such reductions will require substantial changes to our behaviour including the adoption of new technologies such as eco-friendly heating systems, and the reduction of our reliance on high carbon-footprint transportation systems such as flights and diesel cars.

Our guests discuss how this behaviour change can be achieved; the psychological biases and barriers that stand in our way; and the role that corporations and government must play to make climate-friendly behaviours tenable. 

So, can we Nudge to Net Zero? Listen to find out!

 

Credits:

Production and editing by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m3zn3SHmMh3vuR13hkLCP?si=88ed700f455c4dc4

Antibiotic resistance, health inequality and the replication crisis

Antibiotic resistance, health inequality and the replication crisis

October 21, 2021

On Christmas Eve December 2020, the World Health Organisation named Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and health inequities as 2 of the 10 global health threats to track in 2021. In 2019, we worked with the Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) and PHARMAC to see how we can tackle both in Aotearoa New Zealand. The results of this work have just been published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, so we wanted to dedicate this episode of Inside the Nudge Unit to it. 

Peer-reviewed articles allow us to present the rigorous work that goes into running a Behavioural Insights (BI) project. However, journal articles often remove the work from its broader context and leave little space for describing the tribulations that go into running BI trials. In this episode, we cover the story of how the trial developed, and how it built on our earlier work in the UK and the work done by the Behavioural Economics Research Team in the Australian Department of Health (BERT) and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian government (BETA). 

We discuss how health inequities in Aotearoa New Zealand meant that we couldn’t just copy the letters used in the UK and Australia, and take a quick detour into the replication crisis. You’ll hear from Michael Hallsworth, who led the work in the UK, Janice Wilson, the CEO of the HQSC, Rawiri Jansen, a GP and member of the project's working group, and Nathan Chapell, who developed the letters we used in the project. 

Further reading

If you would like to read more about health inequities in New Zealand, you can read the paper mentioned by Rawiri Jansen here, as well as its follow up here. You can also read about the follow up to the UK study here, and the follow up to the Australian study here

If you are interested in learning more about the replication crisis, we would recommend this article. And if you would like to learn more about issues related to generalising studies from one area to another, we recommend you read this. Chapter 5 of Behavioral Insights, which was co authored by Michael Hallsworth (along with Elspeth Kirkman) also gives an overview of the issues discussed. 

Thanks to the large team of people who were involved in the project, especially Janice Wilson, Catherine Gerard, Richard Hamblin, Carl Shuker, Janet Mackay, Rawiri McKree Jansen, Richard Medlicott, Aniva Lawrence, Sally Roberts, Jan White and Leanne Te Karu. 

Music by Rich O’Brien https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m3zn3SHmMh3vuR13hkLCP?si=e9e2193372664b6b

Production by Alex Gyani. 

Editing by Pixelife Studios. 

Combatting sexual harassment and violence; economic policy-making

Combatting sexual harassment and violence; economic policy-making

October 4, 2021

In this latest episode of Inside The Nudge Unit BIT’s Aisling Colclough and Lis Costa look at two more major areas of work by the team around the world. First they are joined by colleagues Dr Vera Newman and Monica Wills Silva to explore BIT projects in Australia and Latin America looking at the role behavioural insights can play in helping reduce sexual harassment and violence against women on university campuses and in the home.

Secondly Nida Broughton and Ravi Dutta-Powell join Lis and Aisling to discuss their recent thought leadership work on how applying a behavioural and experimental lens to economic policy-making can bring substantial benefits to all.

The 2019 report referred to by Monica on applying behavioral insights to Intimate Partner Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean is available here: https://www.bi.team/publications/applying-behavioral-insights-to-intimate-partner-violence/

You can find out more about the work discussed in Australia on encouraging bystanders to sexual harassment to take action here: https://www.bi.team/blogs/how-to-stop-sexual-harassment-as-a-bystander/

BIT has also been doing some similar work in Bangladesh on reducing sexual harassment on public transport which you can read about here: https://www.bi.team/blogs/nudging-bystanders-to-fight-sexual-harassment-isnt-easy-but-could-make-perpetrators-think-twice/ and download the full report here: https://www.bi.team/publications/nudging-bystanders-to-combat-sexual-harassment-in-bangladesh/

The two reports discussed by Nida and Ravi are available here:

The Behavioural Economy - 10 evidenced-based strategies for policymakers, regulators and researchers: https://www.bi.team/publications/the-behavioural-economy/

Making Markets Better - A policy manifesto for Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia: https://www.bi.team/publications/marking-markets-better/

 

Credits:

Production and editing by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m3zn3SHmMh3vuR13hkLCP?si=88ed700f455c4dc4

COVID vaccines & tech repairability

COVID vaccines & tech repairability

June 17, 2021

In this episode of Inside The Nudge Unit, BIT’s Lis Costa and Aisling Colclough look at two major pieces of work by the team.

Firstly there is a discussion with Carolina Toth from BIT’s New York office who has been working with mayors across the US on how to engage with people who are cautious or unwilling to get a COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible.

With many from the communities hardest hit by the virus in the US, there has been an urgent need for effective messaging to ensure broad acceptance and uptake of the vaccine.

Carolina explains how the team set out to understand the issues at play in this important area and how they developed strategies that would be welcomed and effective.

 

Further reading on this project on the BIT blog in English here: 

https://www.bi.team/blogs/four-messages-that-can-increase-uptake-of-the-covid-19-vaccines/

 

And in Spanish here: https://www.bi.team/blogs/cuatro-mensajes-que-pueden-motivar-la-vacunacion-contra-el-covid-19/

 

Next Aisling and Lis are joined by Laura Litvine and Violette Gadenne from BIT France to talk about how they worked with the French Government to promote a more sustainable and circular economy by encouraging people to repair rather than replace tech products.

The Government has developed a ‘repairability index’ for electronic goods in France and brought in BIT to look at how to build public awareness and engagement with the concept. It’s a fascinating project with implications for sustainability and technology across the world. 

 

Further reading can be found on the BIT blog in French here: https://www.bi.team/blogs/du-mal-a-resister-a-la-tentation-du-black-friday-quel-meilleur-jour-pour-penser-a-reparer-plutot-que-remplacer/

 

And in English here: 

https://www.bi.team/blogs/feeling-the-black-friday-impulse-try-repairing-not-replacing/

Jargon busting

Some terms mentioned in this episode that might not be familiar to all listeners:

 

Randomised control trials (RCTs) - In the context of BIT’s work, RCTs in public policy are a method of testing and evaluating interventions. They were first developed in medical research but have since been used in many areas of social policy as well. They are generally considered to be at the top of the evidence hierarchies used by the UK Government’s What Works Network, although not without controversy at times. They involve randomly allocating people to a treatment or a control group and then assessing their outcomes. If you would like to know more about RCTs and how to use them you can read our short paper on them: Test, Learn, Adapt.

 

BIT’s Predictiv platform - BIT’s proprietary testing platform - bi.team/bi-ventures/predictiv/

 

Credits:

Edited by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m3zn3SHmMh3vuR13hkLCP?si=88ed700f455c4dc4

 

A decade of ‘nudge’ – in conversation with the pioneers (part 2 of 2)

A decade of ‘nudge’ – in conversation with the pioneers (part 2 of 2)

May 6, 2021

The second and final part of a very special episode of Inside the Nudge Unit, recorded to tie in with the recent 10 year anniversary of the Behavioural Insights Team. Join our CEO, Professor David Halpern, with the founders and pioneers of behavioural economics, Professor Richard Thaler, Professor Cass Sunstein and Google’s head behavioural scientist Dr Maya Shankar, discussing how ‘nudge’ has evolved over the last decade and where the science of human behaviour is headed next. 

Richard Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the 2017 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to behavioural economics. He has been at the forefront of research into psychology of decision-making and economics for over two decades and is the co-author of the international best seller Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness in which the concepts of behavioural economics are applied to tackle many of society’s biggest problems. 

As well as being co-author of the best-seller Nudge, Cass Sunstein is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School and Chair of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and served on President Barack Obama’s Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board. 

Maya Shankar is Google’s Global Director of Behavioral Economics and joined Cass Sunstein as a Senior Advisor within the Obama White House administration where she founded and served as Chair of the White House's Behavioral Science Team — a team of scientists charged with improving public policy using research insights about human behavior. Maya completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience at Stanford after receiving a Ph.D. from Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and a B.A. from Yale in cognitive science. 

To learn more about BIT's first and next 10 years, go to www.bi.team/bit10. You can find every other episodes of Inside The Nudge Unit at www.bi.team/our-work/podcast-inside-the-nudge-unit and keep up to date with all our latest insights on Twitter @B_I_Tweets.

 

Further reading

Nudge is available to buy as paperback or e-book on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happiness/dp/0141040017

 

Read more about Maya Shankar’s work on behavioural science at her website https://mayashankar.com/bio

 

Check out Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize winning work here https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2017/thaler/biographical/

 

Credits 

Editing by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

A decade of ‘nudge’ - in conversation with the pioneers (part 1 of 2)

A decade of ‘nudge’ - in conversation with the pioneers (part 1 of 2)

April 23, 2021

Part 1 of a very special episode of Inside the Nudge Unit, recorded to tie in with the recent 10 year anniversary of the Behavioural Insights Team. Join our CEO, Professor David Halpern, with the founders and pioneers of behavioural economics, Professor Richard Thaler, Professor Cass Sunstein and Google’s head behavioural scientist Dr Maya Shankar, discussing how ‘nudge’ has evolved over the last decade and where the science of human behaviour is headed next. 

Richard Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the 2017 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to behavioural economics. He has been at the forefront of research into psychology of decision-making and economics for over two decades and is the co-author of the international best seller Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness in which the concepts of behavioural economics are applied to tackle many of society’s biggest problems. 

As well as being co-author of the best-seller Nudge, Cass Sunstein is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School and Chair of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and served on President Barack Obama’s Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board. 

Maya Shankar is Google’s Global Director of Behavioral Economics and joined Cass Sunstein as a Senior Advisor within the Obama White House administration where she founded and served as Chair of the White House's Behavioral Science Team — a team of scientists charged with improving public policy using research insights about human behavior. Maya completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience at Stanford after receiving a Ph.D. from Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and a B.A. from Yale in cognitive science. 

To learn more about BIT's first and next 10 years, go to www.bi.team/bit10. You can find every other episodes of Inside The Nudge Unit at www.bi.team/our-work/podcast-inside-the-nudge-unit and keep up to date with all our latest insights on Twitter @B_I_Tweets.

 

Further reading

 

Nudge is available to buy as paperback or e-book on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happiness/dp/0141040017

 

Read more about Maya Shankar’s work on behavioural science at her website https://mayashankar.com/bio

 

Check out Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize winning work here https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2017/thaler/biographical/

 

Credits 

Editing by Andy Hetherington

Music by Rich O’Brien

 

You can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem

You can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem

April 22, 2021

The Behavioural Insights Team have spent the last 10 years developing solutions that are informed by behavioural science. These insights do not emerge overnight. Instead, they are grounded in a firm understanding of the systems in which we operate.

Reading academic (or policy) papers is an important step to developing evidence based interventions, but it will only get you so far if you want to understand the context in which you want to implement an intervention. Instead, we argue that you need to leave the office and try to experience the context as closely as you can, either by directly experiencing it, or by directly speaking to the people that do. 

To try to convince you that you should step away from your desk, we’ve created a podcast which we think will give you a much better sense of why you can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem.  In this podcast, Alex Gyani and Rory Gallagher from BIT’s Sydney office speak to Zoe Powell, Saul Wodak, Allison Wong, Edwina Crawford and Sophie Munro about their experiences of going out into the field and some of the insights they took from that process. We’ll describe projects that have tackled domestic violence, unemployment and the health and safety of gig economy workers. If you want to know more about those specific projects, just follow the links posted in this description. 

 

We cover lots of projects in this podcast. This work has been designed with and funded by a wide range of organisations.

In particular, we would like to acknowledge and thank:

  • The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit, the NSW Aboriginal Services Unit within the NSW Department of Justice (for the work on reducing domestic work in NSW)
  • The NSW Government’s Centre for Work Health and Safety (for the work on Food Delivery Workers in NSW)
  • The JobCentre Plus teams in Essex, UK (for the work on employment in the UK)
  • And the Customer Experience and Design, and Trial Design Evaluation teams in the NZ Ministry for Social Development (for our ongoing partnership)

We apologise to anyone we have omitted and thank all our partners who have helped inform and evolve our Explore work.

 

Note: that this podcast describes the court processes involved in domestic violence cases. While no acts of violence are described in the podcast, if you are affected by domestic violence or abuse, there are a number of services you can reach out to. 

 

Australia:  Call 000 if you are in immediate danger. To access 24/7 counselling and support call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
New Zealand: Call 111 if you are in immediate danger. Call 0800 456 450 free from any phone, 9am to 11pm every day.
UK: Call 000 if you are in immediate danger. For free and confidential advice, anytime call 0808 2000 247.
US: Call 911 if you are in immediate danger. For free and confidential advice, anytime call 1800 799 7233. 

 

Credits:
Editing by Evan Sycamnias at Pixelife Studio
Production by Alex Gyani 

Musical credits:
Intro: Next to you by Jessie Villa
Outro: Cassette Deck by Basketcase
Additional music by Enrize Studio

Creating‌ ‌‌evidence-based‌ ‌government‌

Creating‌ ‌‌evidence-based‌ ‌government‌

April 22, 2021

While the use of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) in government has historically been low, over the last 10 years, the Behavioural Insights Team has aimed to popularise the use of the RCTs and support the work of the organisations like the Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration to get evidence into policy. During this time, a passionate debate has raged between the proponents of RCTs and also those who have argued that RCTs may even be overused or that they are not driven by theory enough

 

However, this debate has not stopped action organisations like the Education Endowment Foundation supercharging the number of RCTs being funded, or organisations like Administrative Data Research UK or the UK Ministry of Justice’s Data Lab service finding new ways to support governments to be more effective.

In this podcast, Alex Gyani in Sydney and Alex Sutherland in London discuss what being a fully evidenced based  government means and how we can get there. We’ll start by discussing what it means to be evidence based, then highlight how BIT has been able to run trials at scale and how ‘nudge’ trials compare to those run in academia. Finally, we look to the future and the promise of machine learning and how AI might be able to help human decision making.

 

If you would like to know more you can download Test, Learn, Adapt here and can also read our report on data science and behavioural insights here. If you would like to know more about the history of whey, you can go here.

 

Credits: 

Editing by Evan Sycamnias at Pixelife Studio

Production by Alex Gyani 

 

Musical credits: 

Intro: Next to you by Jessie Villa

Outro: Cassette Deck by Basketcase 

Creating better markets

Creating better markets

April 22, 2021

In this episode, BIT's CEO, Professor David Halpern, speaks to the New South Wales Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello. David and Victor cover a wide range of topics, starting with why other governments should have a Minister for Customer Service, how behavioural insights can improve economic policy, how markets can be made more transparent and when governments should intervene in markets. 

 

Victor has been the Member of Parliament for Ryde since 2008. He has held the position of Minister for Customer Service since April 2019. Prior to that Victor held the position of the Minister for Finance, Services and Property and was appointed the state’s first Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation in 2015. His earlier appointments include the Minister for Citizenship, Communities, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Minister for Veterans Affairs and the Assistant Minister for Education. As mentioned on the podcast, the NSW Behavioural Insights Unit was established in 2012 and has been located in the Department of Customer Service since 2019.

 

You can keep up to date with the work that he has been doing through his website, LinkedIn and Twitter

 

Further reading

 

  • If you want to read some news coverage about the FuelCheck app, you can go here or head to the FuelCheck website here
  • If you want to learn more about the Comprehensive Third Party reforms, you can read about it here
  • You can also read more about the work that the New South Wales Behavioural Insights Unit are doing here

 

Credits 

 

Editing by Evan Sycamnias at Pixelife Studio

Music by Rich O’Brien

Thanks to Ellie Wood at the Minister’s Office, and Dave Trudinger, Eva Koromilas and the Behavioural Insights Unit.