British academy

Nudge and Beyond: Behavioural Science, Policy and Knowing What Works

14 June 2012

The British Academy Policy Centre and the Behavioural Insights Team, Cabinet Office were delighted to host a one day event, focusing upon the application of behavioural science to public policy since the establishment of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in July 2010 by the Prime Minister. BIT also launched their new report Test, Learn, Adapt.

Professor Richard Thaler delivered a keynote speech looking at the ways in which behavioural science has progressed since the publication of the influential book Nudge in 2008. He was introduced by Lord O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the Behavioural Insights Team’s Academic Advisory Panel. Afterwards Dr David Halpern, Director of BIT and Chief Strategy Advisor, 10 Downing Street, presented the findings of BIT and addressed its forthcoming challenges.

The programme also featured presentations on the most recent experiments in behavioural science, covering such topics as crime, energy use, and public health. (Download full event programme.)


Video recordings

Dr Robin Jackson: 'Welcome' (1 min). Lord Gus O'Donnell: 'Introduction' (4 mins). Rohan Silva (10 Downing St): 'Behavioural economics and policymaking - the past and future' (7 mins).


Professor Richard Thaler: 'Smart disclosure' (33 mins; presentation slides).


Professor Richard Thaler and Rohan Silva: Q&A session (29 mins).


Dr David Halpern (Behavioural Insights Team): 'Applying Behavioural Insights and changing how Whitehall thinks and acts' (24 mins; presentation slides).


Dr David Halpern: Q&A session (15 mins).


New findings from field experiments - Session 1

Professor Lawrence Sherman (Cambridge) (10 mins).


Dr Barak Ariel (Cambridge): 'Operation "Beck" ' (6 mins; presentation slides).


Dr Rory Gallagher (Behavioural Insights Team): 'Applying behavioural insights to reduce fraud, error and debt' (9 mins; presentation slides).


Dr Kees Keizer (Groningen): 'The spreading of (dis)order' (7 mins; presentation slides).


Dr David Reinstein (Essex): 'Charitable giving field experiments' (6 mins; presentation slides).


New findings from field experiments - Session 2

Tim Harford (Financial Times): Session introduction (1 min). Dr Michael Luca (Harvard): 'Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com' (6 mins; presentation slides).


Dr Rob Metcalfe (Oxford): 'Impact of norms on energy consumption' (7 mins; presentation slides).


Dr Laura Haynes (Behavioural Insights Team): 'Minimising the hassle factor: the south London insulation trials' (8 mins; presentation slides available only).

 Professor David Torgerson (York): 'Examples of recent policy trials in the UK' (7 mins; presentation slides).


Professor Olivier Oullier (Aix-Marseille) (8 mins).


Dr Simon Murphy (Cardiff): 'Developing and facilitating a Randomised Controlled Trial of the National Exercise Referral Scheme in Wales' (7 mins; presentation slides).


Discussion by members of the Behavioural Insights Team Academic Advisory Panel (30 mins).


Dr Laura Haynes (Behavioural Insights Team) and Dr Ben Goldacre (Guardian): Launch of Test, Learn, Adapt (video unavailable).

Dr David Halpern (Behavioural Insights Team): Concluding remarks and thanks (5 mins).


About the organisers

The Behavioural Insights Team was set up in July 2010 with a remit to find innovative ways of encouraging, enabling and supporting people to make better choices for themselves. The Team’s work draws on insights from the growing body of academic research in the fields of behavioural economics and psychology which show how often subtle changes to the way in which decisions are framed can have big impacts on how people respond to them.

The British Academy Policy Centre was set up in 2009 to promote engagement between policymakers and humanities and social sciences academics. It is part-funded by the AHRC and ESRC.