The power of Behavioural Insights

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) coined the term 'behavioural insights' in 2010 to describe the practical application of a range of academic disciplines broadly known as the behavioural sciences (including behavioural economics, experimental psychology, and social anthropology).

These fields seek to understand how individuals take decisions in practice and how they are likely to respond to different options they are given. By understanding how individuals take decisions in the real world, behavioural insights offer practitioners the prospect of designing interventions that encourage, support and enable people to make better choices for themselves and society. And by testing these new interventions against current practices, it is possible to determine just how effective these often subtle changes are in practice.

Over the past eight years, BIT has run some 600 trials in areas as diverse as tax compliance, organ donation, charitable donations, and job searching. These have shown, for example, that:

  • Informing people how many other people have paid their tax on time in letters from HMRC to late tax payers increased payment rates by up to five percentage points;

  • Prompting people to join the organ donor register by asking them ‘if you needed an organ transplant would you have one?’ added an extra 100,000 donors to the register;

  • Asking people in a bank who had donated in the past to ask their colleagues to donate (rather than them directly) increased donation rates from 6.1% to 38.8%

  • Changing the job searching process to encourage job seekers to actively plan the week ahead significantly increased the number of people coming off benefits and into work.

TEST + Build™ provides you with a structured process for developing your own behavioural insights, with a focus on communications (like letters, emails, and mobile messages). At key decision points, experienced researchers will help quality assure interventions you design, and help you to run your own randomised evaluations.

This will help you to both build your own knowledge of how to apply behavioural insights, but with the support and guidance of those who have run similar projects many times before.