The PsychReport: “When it comes to being heard in Washington, classical economists have long gotten their way. Behavioral scientists, on the other hand, haven’t proved so adept at getting their message across.
It isn’t for lack of good ideas. Psychology’s applicability has been gaining momentum in recent years, namely in the U.K.’s Behavioral Insights Team, which has helped prove the discipline’s worth to policy makers. The recent (but not-yet-official) announcement that the White House is creating a similar team is another major endorsement of behavioral science’s value.
But when it comes to communicating those ideas to the public in general, psychologists and other behavioral scientists can’t name so many successes. Part of the problem is PR know-how: writing for a general audience, publicizing good ideas, reaching-out to decision makers. Another is incentive: academics need to publish, and many times publishing means producing long, dense, jargon-laden articles for peer-reviewed journals read by a rarified audience of other academics. And then there’s time, or lack of it.
But a small group of prominent behavioral scientists is working to help other researchers find their way to Washington. The brainchild of UCLA’s Craig Fox and Duke’s Sim Sitkin, Behavioral Science & Policy is a peer-reviewed journal set to launch online this fall and in print early next year, whose mission is to influence policy and practice through promoting high-quality behavioral science research. Articles will be brief, well written, and will all provide straightforward, applicable policy recommendations that serve the public interest.
“What we’re trying to do is create policies that are mindful of how individuals, groups, and organizations behave. How can you create smart policies if you don’t do that?”
In bringing behavioral science to the capital, Fox echoed a similar motivation as David Halpern of the Behavioral Insights Team.
“What we’re trying to do is create policies that are mindful of how individuals, groups, and organizations behave. How can you create smart policies if you don’t do that?” Fox said. “Because after all, all policies affect individuals, groups, and/or organizations.”
Fox has already assembled an impressive team of scientists from around the country for the journal’s advisory board including Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of Nudge which helped inspire the creation of the Behavioral Insights Team, The New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman. They’ve created a strong partnership with the prestigious think tank Brookings Institute, who will serve as their publishing partner and who they plan will also co-host briefings for policy makers in Washington…”