10 March 2010

Mindspace: Influencing behaviour through public policy

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New insights from science and behaviour change could lead to significantly improved outcomes, and at a lower cost, than the way many conventional policy tools are used, argues the UK Government.

MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy was a joint commission by the UK Cabinet Office and the Institute for Government. It shows how the latest insights from the science of behaviour change can be used to generate new and cost-effective solutions to some of the current major policy challenges, such as reducing crime, tackling obesity and climate change.

In their joint foreword to the report, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Government, Sir Michael Bichard, said that behavioural theory has the potential to help policy makers deal with some of the difficult issues ahead and achieve more for less:

“Many of the biggest policy challenges we are now facing – such as the increase in people with chronic health conditions – will only be resolved if we are successful in persuading people to change their behaviour, their lifestyles or their existing habits. Fortunately, over the last decade, our understanding of influences on behaviour has increased significantly and this points the way to new approaches and new solutions.

“So whilst behavioural theory has already been deployed to good effect in some areas, it has much greater potential to help us. To realise that potential, we have to build our capacity and ensure that we have a sophisticated understanding of what does influence behaviour. This report is an important step in that direction because it shows how behavioural theory could help achieve better outcomes for citizens, either by complementing more established policy tools, or by suggesting more innovative interventions.”

A practical guide to MINDSPACE
Full version of the MINDSPACE report

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