The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) generates and applies behavioral insights to inform policy, improve public services, and deliver results for citizens and society. Over the last decade, BIT has grown from a seven-person unit in the U.K. government to a global social purpose company with offices around the world. Their work in areas like healthcare, humanitarian aid, and economic growth spanned 31 countries just last year.
Michael Hallsworth is the current Managing Director of BIT North America, and Elspeth Kirkman is the previous Managing Director of that unit and current London office Director. They carry a combined 15 years of experience with BIT, and just co-authored a book, “Behavioral Insights,” which was published earlier this month.
Zarak and Erik welcome them both to the show! They discuss the application of behavioral insights and scientific method to real-world problems. This can range from an individual level to help people achieve personal goals, to a grander scale to help affect positive change for entire populations and societies. Other topics include behavioral science concepts that originated in the Enlightenment, and how important it is to constantly test and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, measure the impact wherever possible, and always remain skeptical.
In today's episode we welcome back to the program Kelly Leonard, Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at Second City Works and host of the "Getting to Yes, And" podcast.
Zarak and Erik chat with Kelly about how they have pivoted their business, which is based on in-person experiences, to digital events. We cover how Second City has had to experiment to produce virtual classes and shows in the Year of COVID-19. Kelly says that improv comedy traits like resilience and change readiness have helped them pivot, and that the application of improv skills has never been more relevant.
Since this is Action Design Radio, and our guest is an improv guru, we cover a lot of ground with Kelly, including why we should go off-camera more when using video conferencing platforms like Zoom, and how during this time we're all dealing with the trauma and loss of things in our lives (both big and small) that used to be cornerstones of our humanity. Oh, and the quest for the best Italian beef in all of Chicagoland.
Don’t look now – it’s a crossover episode! No, not Alf meets Gilligan’s Island, or The Simpsons meets Family Guy. It’s Behavioral Grooves meets Action Design Radio!
Kurt Nelson is the founder of The Lantern Group, a behavioral design and communication agency, and Tim Houlihan is the founder of the BehaviorAlchemy consultancy. Together, they also team up to host the Behavioral Grooves podcast, where they interview top practitioners and researchers in the various fields of behavioral science, and mix things up with their passion for music.
In today’s episode, they discuss with Erik and Zarak their origin story for how Behavioral Grooves was born, favorite episodes, the evolution of behavioral science in general over the 20+ years they’ve both been working in the field, and its infinite applications. The endless quest for knowledge and a passion for satisfying their curiosity is what keeps them coming back with such enthusiasm for these topics after so many years and 160 episodes across their two podcasts.
Other topics include:
Stephen Wendel is the Head of Behavioral Science at Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research. He and his team of behavioral scientists and practitioners specialize in savings and investing behavior, as well as digital products that help individuals manage their money more effectively. He founded the Action Design Network in 2012 and has authored several books, the most recent of which is titled “Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics – Second Edition.” The book is currently available for purchase on Kindle, and can be pre-ordered in print. You can download the free workbook at www.behavioraltechnology.co.
Steve joins Zarak and Erik to discuss his latest book, which describes how people can apply behavioral science in products and communications, and to help people change behavior in intentional and beneficial ways. In conjunction with the Action Design Network and the Behavioral Science & Policy Association, Steve and his team just ran the most comprehensive survey to date of applied behavioral teams across the globe. The diversity in the field has exploded; organizations with applied behavioral teams ranging from Kosovo to Peru participated in this survey, and the results are detailed in Steve's new book, as well as this episode.
Michelle Niedziela is the Scientific Director and VP of Innovation at HCD Research, a marketing and consumer sciences company that applies neuroscience tools along with traditional market research methods to help their clients create better products, packaging, and communications for consumers. She also worked as a senior scientist at Johnson & Johnson, and still regularly contributes as a columnist on consumer perspectives to various publications.
What are some things behavioral scientists should know more about neuroscience? When should they work together to enhance what they both do? Zarak, Erik, and Michelle tackle questions like these in today’s episode. As Michelle explains, there are a lot of misconceptions about neuroscience. When you conduct “fancy” neuroscience research, it doesn’t mean giving up good, old-fashioned surveys or qual and quant research methods. They must all be combined to better understand how the consumer experiences a product. “Measuring brain activity doesn’t really tell you anything unless you put it in context, and I feel like the behavioral science gives you that context,” she says.
Other topics include cognitive flow, using neuroscience to increase the effectiveness of OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, and Zarak’s beard care product of choice. Spoiler Alert: it’s called Cowboy Magic.
Dan Egan, Director of Behavioral Finance and Investing at Betterment, joins our hosts Erik and Zarak to discuss financial and investment behavior during times of crisis. What does today’s coronavirus pandemic have in common with previous crises that negatively impacted the economy and financial markets? What is unique to this particular situation? How have most investors responded so far? What roles do fear, control, and adaptability play? How can we better leverage basic behavioral science concepts such as nudging and mental accounting? What is the relationship between physical health, mental stress, and financial decision-making? What are some things we can be doing from home to help ourselves and others during this time?
These questions and more are answered in this latest episode. Take a deep breath, try to relax (maybe turn off the news and social media notifications for a few minutes), and enjoy!
Stephen Wendel is the Head of Behavioral Science at Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research. He and his team of behavioral scientists and practitioners specialize in savings and investing behavior, as well as digital products that help individuals manage their money more effectively. He founded the Action Design Network in 2012 and has authored three books, the most recent of which is titled “Spiritual Design: Enrich Your Spiritual Practice with Lessons from Behavioral Science.” He has graciously made free download of this book available at www.spiritualdesign.co/book.
Steve joins our hosts Zarak and Erik to discuss the unique application of behavioral science to spirituality and religion. Many individuals have certain values they want to live by, but fall into the classic trap of "All or Nothing." This happens when we think we need to go to the gym every day if we’re fit; save or invest every penny if we’re financially responsible; or constantly go to houses of worship and give to charity if we value certain beliefs. Since this approach usually isn’t sustainable for most people, Steve explains techniques to design environments for ourselves that are more conducive to following our beliefs and expressing our faith in ways that are doable and fulfilling.
Happy New Year! In the first installment of Action Design Radio in 2020, our hosts Zarak and Erik are joined by behavior designer David Ngo. After studying under B.J. Fogg at Stanford, David founded his own behavior design firm – Behavior Delta: www.behaviordelta.com.
In today’s episode, David and our hosts discuss the psychological power of expectation, the “Swarm of B's” technique, and how to apply the Fogg model of behavior to creating new habits and healthy, lasting behavior change. There are many, many different methods of achieving the same goal. David says it’s important to keep in mind – especially this time of year when New Year’s Resolutions abound – that if the first attempt (experiment) doesn’t work out, don’t be discouraged; in fact, don’t even be surprised. It’s just a matter of finding a methodology that makes sense for you.
Check out these links for more information on the Swarm of B's Behavior Design Method, as well as B.J. Fogg’s new book, “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.”