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Behavioural science and policy: where are we now and where are we going?



The use of behavioural sciences in government has expanded and matured in the last decade. Since the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has been part of this movement, we sketch out the history of the team and the current state of behavioural public policy, recognising that other works have already told this story in detail. We then set out two clusters of issues that have emerged from our work at BIT. The first cluster concerns current challenges facing behavioural public policy: the long-term effects of interventions; repeated exposure effects; problems with proxy measures; spillovers and general equilibrium effects and unintended consequences; cultural variation; ‘reverse impact’; and the replication crisis. The second cluster concerns opportunities: influencing the behaviour of government itself; scaling interventions; social diffusion; nudging organisations; and dealing with thorny problems. We conclude that the field will need to address these challenges and take these opportunities in order to realise the full potential of behavioural public policy.

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Corresponding author

*Correspondence to: Behavioural Insights Team, 4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9NP, UK. Email:


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Behavioural science and policy: where are we now and where are we going?



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