Last Wednesday was a historic day for behavioral science. The White House released the annual report of its Social and Behavioral Sciences Team. The U.K.’s Behavioural Insights Team released its own annual report on the same day. With the recent creation of similar teams in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Qatar, the two reports deserve careful attention.
Outlining dozens of initiatives, the reports offer two general lessons about uses of behavioral science by governments. First, both teams are enlisting behavioral science not for controversial purposes, but to encourage people to benefit from public programs and to comply with the law. Second, governments are constantly testing the tools to see whether they actually work.
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