Hotspex Hires P&G Veteran as Behavioral Science Lead – Daily Research News Online

Employee-owned marketing research firm Hotspex has appointed former Proctor & Gamble (P&G) veteran Dan Young as Chief Behavioral Scientist.

The company offers access to consumer panels comprising more than four million households in over 40 countries, delivering research-based recommendations throughout the brand cycle. Young (pictured) joins with 30 years' behavioral science expertise gained at household goods giant P&G. Here he played a leadership role in market research innovation, product development, brand strategy, design, and communications - drawing on knowledge of behavioral sciences and psychophysiology, and using techniques such as cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, and a range of research methodologies to understand consumer memory associations, motivations and needs.

In his new role, Young will expand Hotspex' capabilities in applying cognitive and social psychology and neuroscience to client business questions. He will also coach and mentor the firm's Behavioral and Market Science teams. Commenting on his appointment, Young said: 'What really caught my attention about Hotspex is its growing team of curious PhDs in the fields of cognitive psychology and behaviour, and its track record for innovating within the insights industry'.

Web site: http://www.hotspex.com .

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Hotspex Hires P&G Veteran as Behavioral Science Lead - Daily Research News Online

Data Science Meets Behavioral Science – Datanami

In the United States alone, 38 million people start their day by eagerly fastening a device to their wrist that is not worn for the purpose of fashion or keeping time. It is a fitness tracker and these little gadgets have swept the nation. Why? Because people love having instant access to their performance, activities and goals. They enjoy tracking their progress throughout the day. They are addicted to the gratifying notifications of success, and the social aspects of competing with friends, family members, and coworkers.

The fitness tracker market has achieved tremendous success by providing its consumers with relevant data and motivating incentives. They are successfully inspiring the world to be more active by leveraging principles from both data science and behavioral science.

For centuries, traditional economic theory dictated that humans make logical, self-interested decisions, always choosing the most favorable conditions. However, reality often demonstrates otherwise.

Every January, how many people do you know say that they want to resolve to save more, spend less, eat better, or exercise more? These admirable goals are often proclaimed with the best of intentions, but are rarely achieved. If people were purely logical, we would all be the healthiest versions of ourselves.

However, the truth is that humans are not 100% rational; we are emotional creatures that are not always predictable. Behavioral economics evolved from this recognition of human irrationality. Behavioral economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision-making.

Essentially, it is the intersection between economics and behavioral psychology. Behavioral economics helps us understand why only one-third of Americans floss daily, why most peoples expensive home treadmills turn into overpriced coat racks, and why motivating humans is more complicated than ever before.

Traditional economic theory does not address human irrationality

Human behavior can be seen as the byproduct of millions of years of evolution. With a nature forged from hunger, anxiety and fear, it is no wonder the behaviors of modern man can often be irrational driven by forces like peer pressure, availability bias and emotional exhaustion. To change human behavior, we must embrace our human nature, instead of fight it. And one of the most powerful tools to help enable change is data.

Data science is the discipline that allows us to analyze the unseen and with machine learning, it allows us to look at large sets of data and surface patterns, identifying when past performance is indicative of future results. For instance, it lets us forecast what products are most likely to be sold and which customers are most likely to buy. But what if you not only want to understand potential outcomes, what if you want to completely change outcomes, and more specifically, what if you want to change the way in which people behave? Behavioral economics tells us that to make a fundamental change in behavior that will affect the long-term outcome of a process, we must insert an inflection point. What is the best method to create an inflection point or get someone to do something they would not ordinarily do? Incentives.

As an example, you are a sales rep and two years ago your revenue was $1million. Last year it was $1.1 million, and this year you expect $1.2 million in sales. The trend is clear, and your growth has been linear and predictable. However, there is a change in company leadership and your management has increased your quota to $2 million for next year. What is going to motivate you to almost double your revenues? The difference between expectations ($2 million) and reality ($1.2 million) is often referred to as the behavioral gap (see chart below).

When the behavioral gap is significant, an inflection point is needed to close that gap. The right incentive can initiate an inflection point and influence a change in behavior. Perhaps that incentive is an added bonus, Presidents Club eligibility, a promotion, etc.

The behavior gap depicted above represents the difference between raised expectations (management increasing quota) and the trajectory of current sales performance.

In the US, studies from Harvard Business Review and other industry publications posit that companies spend over one trillion dollars annually on incentives. That number is four times the money spent on advertising in the US annually. What that means is that, as a nation, we are deeply invested in incenting people to act in ways that are somewhat contrary to how they would normally act, if left to their own devices. Incentives appear in many forms such as commissions and bonuses for sales personnel and channel sellers, rebate payments and marketing incentives for partners and customers, and promotions, discounts and coupons for end consumers.

Incentives are most effective when they are intelligent, or data driven. Deloitte University Press published a report stating that when it comes to the relationship between data science and behavioral science, it is reasonable to anticipate better results when the two approaches are treated as complementary and applied in tandem. Behavioral science principles should be part of the data scientists toolkit, and vice versa.

Data scientists work with product and sales teams, employing data and patterns to manage incentive programs. Using forecast modeling and behavior mechanics, teams can plot out the path from one goal to the next and analyze and implement proper incentives.

As an example, lets say your company is a furniture manufacturer that uses a CPQ tool to manage its complex quoting and pricing processes. One of the major reasons your company invested in the CPQ solution was to curb chronic, costly discounting by the sales team.

You are a new sales rep using CPQ to build a quote. What if, mid-quote, your system alerts you that the discount you entered, while within the approved range, may not be ideal. Machine learning ran in the background and identified a different discount used by the top 10% of reps that has had more success. Additionally, you learn that if you choose the prescribed discount, you will earn 40% more commission! Talk about a relevant incentive, based on powerful data.

In a real-world implementation, one Quote-to-Cash customer lets call them Company X who links websites with advertisers, needed to be able to better forecast the potential revenue for each deal. The nature of the business does not allow Company X to recognize revenue until a user clicks on an ad. They harnessed machine learning to understand past behavior, used behavioral science to influence future behavior, and implemented A/B testing (comparing two versions of a web page to see which performs better) on incentive effectiveness programs. The A/B testing data allowed Company X to understand the effectiveness of certain incentives to guide customer behavior.

When applied together, data science and behavioral economics provide powerful business results by collecting relevant, timely insight and defining incentives that align human behaviors with organizational goals.

About the author: Sarah Van Caster is a Data Analyst at Apttus and Lead Strategist for Incentives. She has decade of experience in high-tech, communications and logistics industries and she enjoys designing innovative, customer-focused content and solutions. Sarah has degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Drake University.

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A simple combination of data and language tweaks is helping recruit more diverse police officers – Quartz

A simple combination of data and language tweaks is helping recruit more diverse police officers
In partnership with What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative to increase the use of data in public service delivery, BIT decided to test whether behavioral science could help with recruiting a more diverse staff pool. Elizabeth Linos ...

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A simple combination of data and language tweaks is helping recruit more diverse police officers - Quartz

The New Science of Designing for Humans – Stanford Social Innovation Review (subscription)

The days of privileging creativity over science in design thinking are over. The rise of behavioral science and impact evaluation has created a new way for engineering programs and human interactionsa methodology called behavioral design.

Today the design of things that involve human interaction, such as programs, product delivery, and services, is more art than science. Here is how it typically works: We use our creativity to brainstorm a few big ideas, experts decide which one they like, and then investors bet on the winner, often with billions of dollars at stake.

This way of design thinking should be replaced by a superior method that can enable us to innovate with more success and less risk. Specifically, we can use...

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1 Amos Tversky and Eldar Shafir, Choice Under Conflict: The Dynamics of Deferred Decision, Psychological Science, vol. 3, no. 6, 1992. 2 Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper, When Choice Is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 79, no. 6, 2000. 3 For several examples, see ideas42s June 2016 report Nudging for Success: Using behavioral science to improve the postsecondary student journey, http://www.ideas42.org. 4 D.D. Baals and W.R. Corliss, Wind Tunnels of NASA, Washington D.C.: Scientific and Technical Information Branch, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1981. 5 Kevin Ashton, How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery, New York: Anchor, 2015. 6 Uri Gneezy and Aldo Rustichini, A Fine Is a Price, Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, 2000. 7 E. Pronin, T. Gilovich, and L. Ross, Objectivity in the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Others, Psychological Review, vol. 111, no. 3, 2004. 8 This process was previously described briefly by ideas42 Managing Director Saugato Datta and cofounder Sendhil Mullainathan in their paper Behavioral Design: A New Approach to Development Policy, Review of Income and Wealth, vol. 60, no. 1, 2014. 9 For good examples of quick tests, see David A. Asch and Roy Rosin, Innovation as Discipline, Not Fad, New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 373, no. 7, 2015. 10 Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk, Econometrica, vol. 47, no. 2, 1979.

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How behavioral science can help tackle problem of idling engines – Science Daily

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How behavioral science can help tackle problem of idling engines
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Research in behavioural science has demonstrated how even very minimal cues or 'nudges' can sometimes have a powerful influence on human behaviour and decision-making. In this study, the researchers applied this approach to examine whether simple ...

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Thumbs Up for Science – Stanford Social Innovation Review (subscription)

All too often, people use intuition, along with trial and error, to devise social programs. Sometimes they guess right and the programs are effective. But many times they guess wrong and the programs fail to meet their goals.

Some fields, such as education, are fairly advanced in their knowledge about human behavior and have devised ways to incorporate that knowledge into their work (think schools and teacher education).

But most fields are not as sophisticated. They either havent taken the time to understand how knowledge of human behavior might impact their work. Or they are sloppy and inconsistent in applying that knowledge in the programs that they run. Consider some anti-drug campaigns. If it were really as easy as getting people to Just Say No, the United States wouldnt have the opioid epidemic that it now has.

In recent years, however, the behavioral sciencespsychology, cognitive science, neurology, behavioral economics, and other disciplineshave advanced significantly. We now have a large and growing body of knowledge about how people interact with their environment and with each other in a wide variety of settings. And its time we begin applying that knowledge more consistently in the social sector.

This issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review has several feature articles that do just that. The first is our cover story, The New Science of Designing for Humans, by Piyush Tantia, the co-executive director of ideas42, arguably the leading consultancy on how to use behavioral economics to solve social problems. Tantia argues that organizations should adopt a scientific approach to designing social programs. Byputting behavioral science and impact evaluation together we can design more like engineers than like artists, writes Tantia. He goes on to propose an approachdubbed behavioral designto help create programs in a variety of settings.

The second feature article on behavioral science is Stop Raising Awareness Already, written by two University of Florida scholars. The authors argue that all too often organizations focus their eff orts on raising awareness about an issue, with little thought about how to get people to then act on that awareness. If the goal were to raise awareness among new parents of the importance of immunizing children, you wouldnt be satisfied if parents were simply aware, write the authors. Youd want to be sure that they were also having their children immunized for the right diseases at the right age.

The third article that addresses this subject is Embedding Education in Everyday Life, by three Harvard University scholars. They propose embedding education in everyday experiences, such as having barbers who cater to African-American men provide customers with information on hypertension. Embedded education, they argue, is a more reliable way to reach certain groups of people, and its more effective because the education takes place between people who have a pre-existing relationship and capitalizes on what we know about lifelong learning and behavior change.

But it takes time to learn about behavioral science and then more time to incorporate that knowledge into a program. Its hard work, and not as fun as brainstorming with Post-it Notes. But it is time well spent because the difference between a program that is well-designed and one that isnt can be significant.

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ACTC Science Fair celebrated youth projects – Journal-Times

Carter County students did well in the 5th annual ACTC/FIVCO Science and Engineering Fair on Feb. 3 at Ashland Community and Technical College.

This fair is awesome, said Ethan Tiller, an eighth grade student from East Carter Middle School. He and classmate Treven Tussey entered a behavioral science project called Are You Judging Me. Their project won a first place award.

Our project was interesting, Tiller said. We wanted to see how people are judged based on the way they dress, such as country, goth and preppy. We were surprised to find that country rated lowest.

The fair showcased 124 science projects from 45 schools and home schools representing all FIVCO counties.

We participate every year, said Lisa Baldwin, fourth grade teacher at Prichard Elementary. Science, technology and math knowledge is the wave of the future, and our students need to know how to use them.

Projects were entered in five categories: Biomedical & Behavioral Health; Animal, Plant & Environmental; Math, Engineering & Computers; Chemistry; and Physics & Astronomy.

First, second and third place awards were given in each category. Each middle school and high school award included a medallion and a cash prize of $100 for first place, $80 for second place and $60 for third place. Teachers of students who won first place received a $50 gift card from the National Science Teachers Association.

This years event was a result of the continuous support of our volunteers, teachers and students who are committed to student success, said Fair Director Mia Brown. A special thanks goes to our sponsors Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., Kings Daughter Medical Center, Marathon Petroleum Company and Big Sandy Superstore.

All award winners in the middle and high school categories are eligible to enter the Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at Northern Kentucky University.

Award winners are listed below by category.

Elementary Awards

Biomedical & Behavioral Health Sciences: 2nd - Brett Dailey and Tyler Stinson from Olive Hill Elementary School, 3rd - Savannah Adams and Addison Tiller from Prichard Elementary School.

Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences: 2nd Place - Brody Shearer from Star Elementary in Carter County.

Math, Engineering, & Computer Sciences: 2nd - Jacob Holbrook from Prichard Elementary.

Chemistry: 1st- Ariah Egleston and Autumn Egleston from Olive Hill Elementary.

Middle School Awards

Biomedical & Behavioral Health Sciences: 1st -Ethan Tiller and Treven Tussey from East Carter Middle School; 3rd - Lucas Rayburn from West Carter Middle School.

Physics & Astronomy: 1st - Josiah Combs and Samuel Sherrard from East Carter Middle School.

Chemistry: 2nd - Adam Burnett and Aston Tiller from Easter Carter Middle School, 3rd - Arianna Biliter and Raychel Anguiano from West Carter Middle School.

High School Awards

Animal, Plant, & Environmental Sciences: 3rd - Trey McGlone from West Carter High School

Math, Engineering, & Computer Sciences: 1st - Catheryn Holbrook from West Carter High School.

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ACTC Science Fair celebrated youth projects - Journal-Times

Social and Behavioral Science Students Present Research to St. Gregory's Board of Directors – St. Gregory's University Athletics

Seniors preparing for graduation in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences presented their research to St. Gregorys Universitys Board of Directors as part of the boards February meeting. President Michael Scaperlanda invited six students to present their research posters to the board to highlight the work of St. Gregorys students. The intent was for board members to have direct interaction with the students they makes important decisions for.

I am glad that this happened, said Fr. Charles Buckley, OSB, who is a member of the board of directors and faculty member in the Department of Math and Natural Sciences. Board members spent half an hour circulating the room and asking students about their research.

This was a great opportunity for our students, said Dr. Vickie Jean, Department Chair of Social and Behavioral Sciences, One board member told me that this was what the mission of the university was all about, getting students to think critically about the big questions our society faces.

After presentations, board members attended midday prayers with the monks of St. Gregorys Abbey and had lunch with St. Gregorys students before taking up important discussions about the future of the university.

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Woodall students earn top honors at science, engineering fair – Muskogee Daily Phoenix

The 2017 Cherokee County Science & Engineering Fair took place on Feb. 7 at the Cherokee Community Center in Tahlequah. Seventeen Woodall students won or placed with projects involving original research in science, math, computers, or engineering.

Eighth-grade student Tristan Walters earned the Senior Division Grand Prize Award and 1st place in the Chemistry category with his project titled "Does Temperature Affect the Bioluminescence of Fireflies?"

Woodall eighth-grader Rylee Hunt captured the Senior Division Runner-Up Award as well as first place in the Behavioral Science group with research called "How Does Your Beauty Measure Up?"

Seventh-grade student Maycee Young's project "Dog or Cat Lover?" earned 3rd in the Senior Division Behavioral Science group, and eighth-grader Bindie Copeland's research called "Segments of Imagination" was 2nd Place in Environmental Science.

Eighth-grade student Ty Brant placed third in Math & Computers with his work involving computer programming, and seventh-grade Woodall student Jordan Hayes won the category with a project called "M & M Math."

Eighth grade and Senior Division participants Payton Smith won 1st Place in Earth & Space by researching water desalination; Betty Danner earned a 1st Place award in Medicine & Health by revealing the myth behind lactic acid; and Clayton Wallace was 1st in Zoology by presenting "Beef: It's What's for Dinner!"

Woodall seventh-grade students Gage Barnes (Broadhead Penetration) and Levi Troyer (The Tom Brady Effect) rounded out Woodall's Senior Division success by placing second and third respectively in the Physics category.

Sixth-grade student Ella Barnes presented the 1st place project in the Junior Division Behavioral Science category that attempted to answer the question of whether cell phone use hinders reaction ability or not. The Junior Division also had Woodall sixth-grade students Mikah Vann place 2nd in Earth & Space with "How To Use the Stars for Navigation"; Sydney Taylor in 2nd Place in Environmental Science with "Best Water Filtering System"; Jill Jarvis, 1st Place in Physics with "Popcorn: Are You Hot Enough To Pop?"; and Maddie Keys garnering 1st Place in the Zoology category with a project called "Mexican Jumping Beans are Living in My House!"

Also presenting their research due to their success at the Woodall science fair were Lane Taylor, Jagger Hall, Erica Cypress, Tyler Joice, Kenzie Snell, Lily Clark, Nate Brant and Linzi Woolard. Several Woodall students plan to participate in the Muskogee Regional Science & Engineering Fair on March 7-8.

Information: http://www.woodall.k12.ok.us/ or Dr. Geary Don Crofford, (918) 456-1581, gcrofford@woodall.k12.ok.us.

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Woodall students earn top honors at science, engineering fair - Muskogee Daily Phoenix

Applied Behavioral Science | CLG, Continuous Learning Group

It is a fact of life that nothing changes until behaviors change. Applied Behavioral Science can help you to understand why people say and do certain things. The study of behavioral science has matured through the 20th century, and today is a combination of the traditional elements of science and the more innovative application in organizations.

The science of behavior relies on proven methods to help companies understand what influences behavior, and how managing those influences will impact the entire organization. ABS tools cut through many of the soft factors, such as personality and motivation, and focus on what can be directly observed and objectified, utilizing a scientific, data-based process that analyzes changes and manages behaviors.

ABS is very much a teaching and coaching approach, in which the leaders goal becomes the success of every employee. In this scientific process, early indicators are identified to objectively analyze the impact of changing behavior. Utilizing ABS, leaders may discern the correct behaviors to measure, and make early predictions as to whether the desired results will be achieved.

Harnessing the power of ABS and achieving the behaviors that are linked to end results clearly correlates to improvements in:

Through the implementation of ABS, you have the power to influence every behavior within your organization. ABS helps leaders to understand the impact of antecedents and consequences of behavior. With CLGs support, you can then utilize this science to implement behavior changes across large groups of employees across your organization.

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Study examines how behavioral science can help tackle problem of idling engines – Phys.Org

February 10, 2017 Credit: Steffen Thoma/Public Domain

New research by academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Kent and University of Lincoln, suggests that insights from behavioural science can help inform the design of road signs to bring about changes in driver behaviour.

Research in behavioural science has demonstrated how even very minimal cues or 'nudges' can sometimes have a powerful influence on human behaviour and decision-making. In this study, the researchers applied this approach to examine whether simple visual and written cues could be used to encourage drivers to switch off their engines while waiting at railway crossings.

By leaving their engines idling for long periods, drivers contribute to air pollution, waste fuel, and produce noise and fumes that harm the environment and public health. However, the researchers found that making simple changes to road signs which prompted drivers to consciously reflect on their behaviour doubled the rate of people turning off their engines.

The authors say the findings, published today in the journal Environment and Behavior, are relevant not just for railway crossings, but anywhere with congestion.

The study, which was led by Dr Rose Meleady, of UEA's School of Psychology, Prof Dominic Abrams and Dr Tim Hopthrow at the University of Kent, and Dr Julie Van de Vyver at the University of Lincoln, comes amid continued concern about air pollution levels in cities across the UK and worldwide. Following a visit last month, the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances said air pollution "plagues" the UK, causing an estimated 30,000-40,000 premature deaths a year. Air pollution alerts were also issued last month for London, where it has been suggested that 'no idling' zones could be introduced around schools.

Lead author Dr Meleady said: "We wanted to know how to persuade drivers to switch off their ignition in a situation where collectively they would, potentially, substantially pollute the atmosphere of a large number of residents and pedestrians. The destructive behaviour examined in this study lasted for about two minutes, many times a day. Any reduction of this behaviour therefore has clear benefits for all.

"Planners at local and national levels use signs to encourage better driver behaviour. However, without clear evidence of whether and when these messages prompt action, their impact may be far less than could be achieved. We found that simple changes to the way we design road signs can make them much more effective. We should be using behavioural science to inform the design of such signs to encourage greater co-operation from drivers."

Dr Meleady, a lecturer in psychology, added: "If similar interventions were to be implemented in comparable situations in other cities and countries, the potential contribution to reducing air pollution, improving short and long term health, and reducing effects of global warming could be substantial."

The site chosen for the study was a busy railway level crossing in Canterbury, Kent. The local council had placed a sign at the crossing instructing drivers to switch off their engine when the barriers were down, which happened four times an hour. The message on the sign was not informed by any particular behavioural theory, and the researchers found it had limited impact, with only about 20 per cent of motorists routinely switching off their ignition while waiting for an average of two minutes.

Psychological research has shown that subtle cues that someone's behaviour is being observed can increase their compliance with instructions. In this study, the researchers tested whether the addition of a picture of 'watching eyes' would increase drivers' compliance with the instructions to turn off their engines while waiting at the level crossing. Watching eyes have previously been shown to successfully reduce theft from bicycle racks, reduce littering in public spaces, and increase donations to charity buckets. Here, the image was found to increase the rate of drivers turning off their engines to around 30 per cent.

Importantly however, a second test demonstrated that it was even more effective to encourage self-surveillance. Rather than suggesting behaviour was being monitored by others, a second sign aimed to encourage drivers to monitor their own behaviour and reflect on whether they were complying with the instruction. The sign simply instructed drivers to "Think of yourself: When barriers are down switch off your engine". The results showed that combining the instruction with this self-surveillance prompt was highly effective, doubling the rate of drivers who switched off their engines to 50 per cent.

Dr Meleady said: "We found that the mere presence of an instructive sign had little effect on drivers' behaviour. Rates of compliance increased when instructions were accompanied by subtle surveillance cues. These findings reinforce the importance of directing attention towards the individual when trying to encourage behaviour change, and beyond that, suggest it may sometimes be more effective to encourage self-surveillance rather than using cues suggesting public surveillance."

The study 'Surveillance or Self-Surveillance? Social Cues Can Increase the Rate of Drivers' Pro-Environmental Behavior at a Long Wait Stop', Rose Meleady, Dominic Abrams, Julie Van de Vyver, Tim Hopthrow, Lynsey Mahmood, Abigail Player, Ruth Lamont, and Ana C Leite is published in Environment and Behavior.

Explore further: Strange bedfellows: Dangerous link between driver distraction and sleepiness

More information: 'Surveillance or Self-Surveillance? Social Cues Can Increase the Rate of Drivers' Pro-Environmental Behavior at a Long Wait Stop', Environment and Behavior, DOI: 10.1177/0013916517691324

Driver distraction combined with sleepiness creates a perfect storm when young people get behind the wheel, warns QUT road safety researcher Dr Chris Watling.

"Good" drivers turn bad when faced with poor driver etiquette, according to QUT research which has found many motorists are creating the problem they hate by responding aggressively to rudeness on the roads.

Road safety researchers at QUT are developing innovative in-vehicle technology to improve safety and save dollars at the petrol pump, and are looking to test it out on Brisbane drivers.

With mobile phone distracted driving a growing road safety issue, a QUT study reveals why some drivers slow down when using a mobile phone but others don't.

Drivers are traveling about 10km/h faster than they think they should through roadwork zones, according to a new QUT study which compared the speed drivers think is safe to how fast they are actually going.

London's mayor has issued air quality alerts across the capital for the first time because of high pollution levels.

A team of international researchers, led by Colorado State University's Michael Gavin, have taken a first step in answering fundamental questions about human diversity.

Exceptionally well-preserved fossil communities are always exciting, but some are more interesting than others. Fossils from particularly important times or environments can tell palaeontologists much more than those from ...

Changing environments and ecosystems were driving the evolution of horses over the past 20 million years. This is the
main conclusion of a new study published in Science by a team of palaeontologists from Spain and Argentina. ...

A new study has revealed that gills originated much deeper in evolutionary history than previously believed. The findings support the idea that gills evolved before the last common ancestor of all vertebrates, helping facilitate ...

Humans may have ritualistically "killed" objects to remove their symbolic power, some 5,000 years earlier than previously thought, a new international study of marine pebble tools from an Upper Paleolithic burial site in ...

On a recent afternoon, a small group of students gathered around a large table in one of the rooms at the Stanford Archaeology Center.

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Study examines how behavioral science can help tackle problem of idling engines - Phys.Org

Public policy with a true human face – World Bank Group (blog)

The other day I forgot my cellphone at home. On our way to her school my three-year old daughter asked me why I had forgotten it. I dont know, I was distracted I guess, I answered back, only to be faced with another why question from her. Of course, it didnt stop there. After the third why I really couldnt come up with anything sensible to say and, I confess, I wasnt finding the line of questioning amusing anymore. Yet, that very short exchange pretty much summed up the case for applying behavioral insights into public policy. How?

Chances are you have sometimes forgotten something unintentionally. We humans forget things from time to time and miss deadlines without meaning to do so. We really try to exercise, eat healthy, and lose weight but find it hard to do so. And if that salt shaker is at your restaurant table you are much more likely to add salt to your plate than if it is not. We tend to go with the flow and we often dont think hard enough about why we do the things we do. This is the reason we find the relentless why questions from a toddler so charming; were simply not used to questioning ourselves why we do certain things.

Even more telling, when asked we often dont even have a good intuition as to whats really behind many of our actions. This doesnt just apply to mundane tasks like carrying your cellphone around or adding salt to your plate. Ask yourself how did you get to support or disagree with the latest policy reform proposed by your government. Did you read the draft legislation from beginning to end to come up with your position or did you just rely on what someone else said about it, perhaps drawing on what the newspaper or politician you typically like said? Drawing on such shortcuts is not always wrong. In fact, they make perfect sense as a way of coping with the enormous complexity that surrounds us. Applying behavioral insights into public policy is nothing more than taking seriously these simple truths.

Nudging in Latin America The very good news is that the application of behavioral insights into public policy is happening already, in Latin America too. And one of the most encouraging lessons from the applications thus far is that small changes in public policy can have big impacts. In Peru, a simple but clever intervention by the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the World Bank and others, aims to change childrens and teachers attitudes towards learning by emphasizing how being smart is something every student can work on. This draws on the growth mindset literature, which highlights that when students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. The intervention, which cost only 20 cents per student, resulted in an increase of student test scores of a sizeable magnitude.

This finding is particularly important for less privileged socioeconomic groups, which may have a greater tendency to view smartness as an unchangeable trait, as shown in a most comprehensive survey done in Chile. And many other interventions are being explored by MineduLab, the innovation lab of the Ministry of Education in Peru, to address education related challenges such as teacher absenteeism, teacher motivation, improving student performance, increasing parents engagement, and reducing drop-out rates.

The World Bank has partnered with authorities at all levels to implement projects on a variety of fields. In Guatemala and Costa Rica, jointly with the United Kingdoms Behavioral Insights Teamthe pioneer among government units to apply behavioral insights into public policythe effort achieved an increase in tax compliance through reaching out to taxpayers by letters and text messages. In Costa Rica we partnered with the municipality of Belen, as well as with the organization ideas42, and improved water conservation by informing households of how their water consumption compared to the average in their neighborhood.

Behavioral method: learn, test and adapt

An important contribution of behavioral insights into public policy is the method itself. It starts with a clear definition of what is the problem at hand, stated without any assumptions as to the drivers of the behavior in question. This is easier said than done as often we have entrenched preconceived ideas about what those drivers may be. It follows with a systematic series of why question, not unlike my three-year olds, that should guide some analysis and diagnosis of the behavior of the individuals involved. Finally, and key to the method, is the emphasis on an iterative process in which we set things up in a way to have fast and frequent feedback loops so that we can continually learn, test, and adapt.

Rigorous testing requires the type of administrative data that tax authorities or mandated scholastic achievement tests provide. This is needed to unequivocally establish the causal impact of interventions which are often deceptively simple and that often run counter the myth that big problems always require big solutions. At the same time, looking ahead, we may need to start considering how these behavioral insights can also inform public policy in areas that may be important but where we may not have as much data or opportunities for randomized interventions.

Despite those challenges the range of topics where behavioral insights are being applied keeps expanding. Ideas42, mentioned above, is exploring the application of behavioral science to improve case management for women affected by intimate partner violence in Bolivia. Technology can be a significant factor in expanding the scope of behaviorally-informed interventions. In Mexico, the Presidents Office is working with the UKs Behavioral Insights Team and Unicef, in a new two-way SMS system where both parties can send messages called Prospera Digitalone of the first of its kind in the worldto give expecting mothers a way to interact and influence the advice they receive, create personalize appointments, and plan for emergencies as well as the delivery.

Why not? Imagine if we could make this type of intervention more like the norm rather than the exception. Imagine if public policy recognized our very human weaknesses and that deliberately paused to ask why with the relentless of a toddler and the rigor of the scientific method. Imagine if doing so we could make public policy more effective.

As the World Bank, governments, and partners continue experimenting and applying behavioral science in government programs and policies, we will share with you through this series Small changes, big impacts: applying #behavioralscience into development every two weeks, the latest development and thinking in the region. Join us and share your thoughts, your work and thinking.

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Public policy with a true human face - World Bank Group (blog)

New ASU program combines law, psychology – Arizona State University

February 9, 2017

Sometimes during a trial a lawyer will get angry, a witness will speak out of turn or a defendant will have an outburst. The judge will then calmly instruct the jury to disregard what just happened.

In theory, its supposed to keep emotion and bias out of the legal system. In reality, ASU assistant professor Jessica Salerno said, its hard for humans to separate thoughts and emotions so neatly.

Jessica Salerno

So much of the legal system has to do with people making decisions, and people judging other peoples behaviors, she said. Its inherently psychological. Trying to make a legal system run well would be difficult without understanding what affects peoples decisions.

The recently established Program on Law and Behavioral Science takes that into account. It brings ASU experts such as Salerno together across disciplinesThe Program on Law and Behavioral Sciences has affiliated faculty from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the Department of Psychology, the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the School of Social Work. that meet at the intersection of law and behavioral science including psychology, law, forensics and criminology to conduct research and teach students in new ways that they hope will improve the legal system by making it more analytical and fair.

Associate professor and program co-founder Nick Schweitzer said research into law and psychology has grown in recent years, with scholars the world over realizing the importance of understanding how the fields intersect and influence each other in the legal process.

For example, psychologists might assist the court in understanding a criminal's mental state or determine whether a jury might be biased against a defendant based on race. The field has also helped reshape how police conduct eyewitness lineups and interviews.

Schweitzers own work has been cited by the U.S. Federal Courts to demonstrate how jurors weigh expert evidence in trials. And the work of one of the programs affiliated faculty members, Regents Professor Michael Saks, was instrumental in a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the psychological effects of smaller vs. larger juries.

Nick Schweitzer

At ASU, the Program on Law and Behavioral Sciences provides both an opportunity for cross-disciplinary research among scholars, as well as new academic offeringsthat include undergraduate and masters degrees in forensic psychology and a doctorate in law and psychology. Classes for the new program will begin in fall 2017.

According to Schweitzer, both the quality of the faculty and the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration at ASU stand to make the program one of the strongest ... both in terms of size and caliber of people.

This year, Salerno, anaffiliated faculty member, was awarded the Saleem Shah Early Career AwardThe Saleem A. Shah Early Career Development Award is given for demonstration of significant early career achievement in forensic psychology, or related fields of law. Forensic psychology combines general training in psychology with specialized course work in criminal law, criminal behavior, the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and legal decision-making. for her research into the role of emotion in the legal decision-making process.

Some of Salernos recent work has looked at how gruesome crime-scene photos and victim impact statements affect jurors. Shell be teaching a legal psychology course this fall but is equally excited at the prospect of strengthening research efforts by reaching across traditional fields of study.

The potential for this kind of collaboration is one of reasons I came to ASU, she said.

Last years winner of the Saleem Shah Early Career Award also hails from ASU. Assistant professor and fellow program faculty affiliate Tess Neal received the award for her research into expert bias in legal testimony.

Michael Saks

Thats the highest distinction you can get in our field for early career awards, Schweitzer said, adding that Saks recently received the Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and Law, the highest distinction in the field at the opposite end of the career spectrum.

An ASU alum, Schweitzers work focuses on how neuroscience is used in court, in cases where brain scans that may reveal a psychological disorder are used as evidence. Hes thrilled to now be able to continue working with Saks.

Saks, who has been researching medical malpractice, is similarly enthused at the prospects of the new program.

Psychology has come to play an important role in the making of better law, policy and practices, he said. It has combined with forensic science to be part of ongoing reforms of that field, with economics to create behavioral economics, and will play an essential part in the movement to reduce injuries and deaths in health care.

The students and faculty in this new program will learn, teach and do research in these and numerous other areas where interdisciplinary innovation involving behavioral science is needed.

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New ASU program combines law, psychology - Arizona State University

TSA screening program risks racial profiling amid shaky science study – The Guardian

TSA screening techniques can easily give way to implicit or explicit bias, says an ACLU lawyer. Photograph: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A new study based on thousands of internal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) documents has excoriated a controversial screening program as reliant on dubious behavioral science and amounting to surveillance of scores of unsuspecting air travelers, particularly Muslims and Latinos.

The study, conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after a years-long transparency lawsuit, may add to the anxiety of travelers in the Donald Trump era and particularly non-Americans, whom Trumps executive orders on immigration explicitly note do not enjoy legal privacy protections.

In particular, the TSA documents indicate a substantial focus on Arabs, Muslims and Latinos, despite repeated TSA assurances that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) component does not profile travelers based on ethnicity, race or religion.

Because the techniques that the TSA are using are not grounded in valid science, those techniques raise an unacceptable risk of racial and religious profiling, said the ACLUs Hugh Handeyside, one of the attorneys in the TSA lawsuit.

The documents show the use of those techniques become a license to harass. They can easily give way to implicit or explicit bias.

The study reveals that the TSA concluded in internal investigations that its officials engaged in such profiling. At Newark Liberty international airport in New Jersey, a supervisor, ultimately demoted, instructed profiling of passengers based on race and made improper law enforcement referrals to Customs and Border Protection.

At Logan airport in Boston, agents implemented a procedure for profiling or identifying illegal aliens, something beyond the mandate of the TSA. Investigations of TSA profiling allegations also occurred at Chicago, Honolulu and Miami airports.

One behavioral-detection officer [BDO] cited in the report observed: Ive seen BDO managers lie to cover up their mistakes [and] make questionable decisions based on the way someone looks, ie cute, Asian, Black, etc Whats worse is Ive heard a BDO manager refer to passengers as towel heads when speaking in a meeting with other management AND subordinates.

TSAs program, Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, or Spot, is intended as an additional check on potential onboard hijackings or airport attacks. Spot instructs plainclothes agents to conduct surreptitious interviews with travelers who have cleared security checkpoints and trains them to identify supposed signs of deception.

In 2013, the watchdog Government Accountability Office recommended limiting funding for Spot until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. A 2016 DHS inspector generals report stated that TSA employs 2,660 staff at 87 airports.

The passenger should not suspect that they have undergone any deliberate line of questioning, a Spot document instructs, contributing to the ACLUs conclusion that plainclothes Spot officers conduct surveillance covertly.

One TSA document on behavioral cues singles out a trancelike state; inappropriate clothing; avoiding direct contact with others.

Other alleged indicators include exaggerated yawning; excessive grooming gestures; fast eye blink rate; a lack of eye contact; excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head-turning, shuffling feet, leg shaking and more. A male with a fresh shave and lighter skin on his lower face is considered an indicator of concealed Muslim zealotry.

The ACLU lawsuit unearthed extensive scientific research undermining Spots premises that such behavior indicates deception at all.

A striking finding in the literature is that liars do not seem to show clear patterns of nervous behaviors such as gaze aversion and fidgeting, according to a 2007 article in the journal Law and Human Behavior. A 2006 review of the literature found that people who are motivated to be believed look deceptive whether or not they are lying.

Although the available science indicates that behavioral observation is little more reliable at indicating deception than flipping a coin, the ACLU found no evidence that the TSA reformed Spot to accommodate the evidence. Instead, the study called into question repeated statements the TSA has provided to Congress assuring that widely accepted principles supported by leading experts in the field of behavioral science and law enforcement underpin Spot.

[I]t appears highly unlikely that behavior detection officers could reliably assess deception or mal-intent through brief encounters with total strangers in a context as fluid and harried as an airport terminal, the ACLU study said.

In 2015, the Intercept revealed that Spot included on its list of signs you might be a terrorist activities including excessive throat clearing and contradictory instructions like gazing down and widely open staring eyes.

Handeyside said: We are just not convinced that this program can be implemented at all without raising an unacceptable risk of unlawful racial religious profiling. We think it should be discontinued.

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TSA screening program risks racial profiling amid shaky science study - The Guardian

Why Behavioral Science Has Become the Next Big Thing for Solving Society's Problems – NationSwell

Ever since Dr. Stanley Milgram conducted his notorious experiment in the early 1960s, in which he asked participants to obediently administer a high-voltage shock to a victim, researchers have uncovered a wealth of fascinating insights into the human mind. But much of this study has been confined to laboratories and academia. As managing director at ideas42, NationSwell Council member Alissa Fishbane is bucking that trend by applying the lessons from behavioral science to the social sector. At ideas42, her team advises governments and nonprofits about how to better structure their programs in education, healthcare, criminal justice, finance and energy based on what we know about human psychology. NationSwell spoke to Fishbane at her office in Lower Manhattan.

What is behavioral science, and why is it so important for policymakers to understand?Behavioral sciences are really pulling together all the research in social psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics. This field is so important because people often behave in ways that are strange and peculiar. You want to go to the gym five times a week, you want to stay on this diet and you want to save more for retirement. Why isnt that happening? We all tell ourselves what we want to do, then it doesnt quite happen. Why not? We as human beings struggle to follow through on certain decisions, particularly things that are very important to us. But programs and policies in the social sector are often created in ways that dont account for this fundamental aspect, how we behave as humans. Thats really where we come in.

Whats an example of how this looks in practice?One thing were looking at is how to help students complete college. Theres been a lot of great work in this area, but weve taken a different approach, which is the holistic student experience. How do we take the pulse of a student as they go through the process, day-to-day and semester-to-semester? How do we understand their various decisions, actions, habits? Knowing that there are constant hurdles a student needs to jump over Did I apply? Did I matriculate? Did I get my aid? Did I study? Did I pass? even a small one can trip them up. The solution isnt any one piece; its creating a system that supports them throughout all of their college years.

It can be very simple, like reminders to complete the FAFSA. With something that small, we almost doubled the early application rate at one university we worked with. We also take on tougher problems, like working with a college to figure out how to keep students from dropping out in the first year. We realized a big part of the problem for students was feeling like they didnt belong on campus. For that, we embedded a video into orientation showing how lots of other students went through similar challenges, the way they overcame them and how thrilled they are now to be there. We were able to raise the retention rate from 83 to 91 percent, which is pretty amazing, just by understanding what these students experienced.

What kinds of issues have you worked on locally, in New York City?Summons are tickets for low-level infractions that people get for things like having an open container of alcohol in public or riding a bike on the sidewalk. Lots of people are getting these tickets big city, you know, lots going on but whats really scary is that if you get a ticket and dont show up to court, a bench warrant is put out for you. The next time you have any sort of encounter with police, you will be arrested immediately and put in jail. Almost 40 percent of New Yorkers arent showing up, which is an extraordinarily high number. Thats really concerning because for families that dont have flexible jobs, its hugely disruptive. Even if youre out in 24 hours, you could lose your job. And its even worse if youre undocumented.

We partnered with the mayors office, the NYPD and a state entity, the Office of Court Administration, to change what the ticket looks like. Even changing the title makes it clearer. Before it said Complaint/Information; now, it says Criminal Court Appearance Ticket. Instead of a date and time in chicken-scratch on the back, that info is now at the top along with writing that says that you will get an arrest warrant if you dont show up.

Then, their next touch point is 12 weeks later. Most people think they have plenty of time, but they forget, lose the ticket or dont put the date in their calendar. Were coupling the revised form with a series of text-message reminders. We know people need to ask for time off work, so it comes a week ahead of time to help them plan. In case they forgot, it comes three days before. Then, it comes the day before.

Are there any ethical dilemmas to watch out for in applying behavioral research to policy?No matter how you design anything, consciously or unconsciously, you create an outcome. The way anything is built, just in its structure, is nudging people one way or another. We try to de-bias that and help people make the decision they want to be making. In the social sector, were really focused on how we help people move from intention to action. So were not trying to tell people, Now, do this, but rather, helping them follow through.

How do you apply these insights to your own life?We dont realize everything else thats going on in the lives of others; we dont see the full picture of anyones environment. Its easy to say, I cant believe you didnt make it to the gym five times, but then you dont either. I can make these assumptions like, Oh, she doesnt have discipline, but then come up with an excuse for my own lack of discipline. Understanding human behavior makes us more generous about others and ourselves. Ive become much more forgiving of myself, knowing that lots of these things are funny quirks about human behavior.

To learn more aboutthe NationSwell Council,click here.

Lets fix this country together.

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Why Behavioral Science Has Become the Next Big Thing for Solving Society's Problems - NationSwell

Let Behavioral Science Help You Throw An Unbeatable Super Bowl Party – Huffington Post

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While Vegas oddsmakers are busy betting on whether the Patriots or the Falcons will come out on top at this years annual Sponsored Sports Content Between Commercials, there are certain aspects of the associated play-at-home festivities that will never change. Because science. (As long as our nation is allowed to still have science.)

Behavioral Science is the study of how people use their judgementor dontto interact with people. Having a base knowledge of a few of its principles can really come in handy when youre planning to throw a Super Bowl party thats destined to go down in condo association history.

You have enough guac & wings; one case of craft beer is enough; people will be on time and leave immediately once the game concludes. None of this is true. Double the orders and plan for guests to show up in the fourth quarter and leave long after the post-game analysis has ended.

It seems likely that wagering will be involved at your party. Do you want to win? Then do some research on the actual data for each teambecause everyone else will be placing their bets based on the jerseys that are the most appealing, their love/hate relationship to the city that the team represents or their love/hate relationship with Gisele.

Low on cash? No problem, just work on the framing of your presentation. Slop a heap of ramen noodles into a silver bowl and call it a Super Ramen Bowl, or arrange twelve tiny crackers on a piece of china with a small hunk of Spam alongside firm instructions that you can only enjoy with tiny bites.

Want to get everyone supporting the same team? Chances are you live in a bubble. Find out which political candidate your group supported and tell everyone that the other candidate supports the team you dont want to win. Done and done.

This one is simple. Just find the die-hard Chicago Bears fan in the room.

Second City Works, the business-to-business arm of the iconic comedy theater The Second City, announced an academic partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to explore how evidence-based insights and practices of improvisation can enhance communication, collaboration, and well-being in everyday life.

The first step for this partnership joining art and science is the launch of RewireU, an educational program with classes at The Second City beginning Feb. 22. Click here for a full class schedule and more information about the program.

Written by Kelly Leonard and Liz Kozak. This post originally appeared at secondcity.com.

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Let Behavioral Science Help You Throw An Unbeatable Super Bowl Party - Huffington Post