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Can behavioural insights be used for international development?

Submitted by on March 8, 2019 – 10:38 amNo Comment | 98 views

This piece was written by Dr. Kizzy Gandy, Principal Advisor within the Behavioural Insights Team’s (BIT’s) international development team. For more like this, see our government innovation newsfeed.


As the original nudge unit, we’re often asked whether behavioural insights are relevant across different cultures and economies. Can we draw similar conclusions about people’s behaviour in Britain, where we were first set up, as in, say, Bangladesh?

After running projects with governments and organisations in more than 20 low and middle income countries, it’s a question we’re increasingly confident in answering: yes.

Behavioural insights can contribute a great deal to tackling complex development challenges, often at very low cost, in a variety of places and scenarios — from medication adherence to corruption. Given the evolutionary roots of human cognition, we have not been surprised to find that people all over the world are prone to the same decision-making biases.

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No matter where we live, we all gravitate towards options that are easy. We’re all influenced by the behaviour of others, whether they be our neighbours, colleagues and fellow citizens. Assistance in planning effectively can help us all meet our goals, whether they include filing your taxes on time or completing a training course.

We share many of the same human traits and biases, but it’s also true that these may be expressed differently depending on where we live and work. Context is vital when it comes to tapping the full potential of behavioural insights, which is why we partner with governments and organisations to help design and test appropriate interventions.

No matter where we work — and in the last few years that has covered countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Georgia and Turkey — we use behavioural science to improve lives and public services. Recent highlights include:

  • Combating corruption in Nigeria: Not being able to show an ID when requested by a public official leaves people vulnerable to demands for bribes. Yet a significant number of people still fail to pick up their new driver’s licenses, even when notified. So we worked with a local office of the Federal Road Safety Corps of Nigeria to test the impact of sending a follow up text message reminder.

Source: Apoloticial, Read full article

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