Better policies with behavioural sciences

Maksym Kaharlytskyi

What are we researching?

This research focuses on the connection between behavioural sciences and the world of government and public policy. What is the current status and position of the behavioural science perspective in government? And how can or should they develop? How can this perspective contribute to better public policies? What are the ethical aspects? Do we have to fear manipulation and psychological engineering?

Why and how are we are we doing this research?

For some ten years now, the behavioural sciences have been making inroads into the world of governance and public policy. Many current social problems, such as the ever-increasing cost of health care, climate change and recently the corona pandemic, require people to change their behaviour. But as yet, the rapprochement between the two worlds is limited to policy implementation phase, and it has hardly been the subject of scientific study.This research empirically charts the current state of affairs in the Netherlands. The study also sets out how next steps can be taken by involving behavioural sciences earlier, namely during policy-making.

How does our research make an impact?

Behavioural sciences are much more than just a technology for influencing behaviour. First and foremost, they form a perspective on reality, a lens that makes certain phenomena and mechanisms visible and intelligible. This perspective creates frameworks and openings for both new forms of policy criticism and new directions for policy solutions.

The research, therefore, contributes directly to the (potentially) better functioning of government by showing what contribution behavioural sciences can make to

- policy-making. The research will show how the addition of the psychological perspective can already in this phase of the policy cycle make an essential contribution to effective and legitimate policy, namely by identifying ineffective policies at an early stage and by formulating alternative policy approaches

- Challenges other than behavioural change. One might think of phenomena such as societal discontent or conspiracy theories. These are almost psychological in nature by definition and require expertise in this area.

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