Behavioral Science & Policy

Behavioral Science & Policy is an international, peer-reviewed journal that features short, accessible articles describing actionable policy applications of behavioral scientific research that serves the public interest.

Articles submitted to BSP undergo a dual-review process. Leading scholars from specific disciplinary areas review articles to assess their scientific rigor; at the same time, experts in relevant policy areas evaluate them for relevance and feasibility of implementation.

Manuscripts that pass this dual-review are edited to ensure their accessibility to scientists, policy makers, and lay readers. BSP is not limited to a particular point of view or political ideology.

BSP is a publication of the Behavioral Science & Policy Association and the Brookings Institution Press.

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Vol. 1 No. 2



New directions for policies aimed at strengthening low-income couples

By Justin A. Lavner, Benjamin R. Karney, & Thomas N. Bradbury

Summary. Strong marriages are associated with a range of positive outcomes for adults and their children. But many couples struggle to build and sustain strong marriages. Federal initiatives have sought to support marriage, particularly among low-income populations, through programs that emphasize relationship education. Recent results from three large-scale interventions funded by these initiatives are weaker than [...]

Blinding prosecutors to defendants’ race: A policy proposal to reduce unconscious bias in the criminal justice system

By Sunita Sah, Christopher T. Robertson, & Shima B. Baughman

Summary. Racial minorities are disproportionately imprisoned in the United States. This disparity is unlikely to be due solely to differences in criminal behavior. Behavioral science research has documented that prosecutors harbor unconscious racial biases. These unconscious biases play a role whenever prosecutors exercise their broad discretion, such as in choosing what crimes to charge and when [...]

Beyond good intentions: Prompting people to make plans improves follow-through on important tasks

By Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Leslie K. John, & Michael I. Norton

Summary. People fail to follow through on all types of important intentions, including staying fit, studying sufficiently, and voting. These failures cost individuals and society by escalating medical costs, shrinking lifetime earnings, and reducing citizen involvement in government. Evidence is mounting, however, that prompting people to make concrete and specific plans makes people more likely to [...]

Improving the communication of uncertainty in climate science and intelligence analysis

By Emily H. Ho, David V. Budescu, Mandeep K. Dhami, & David R. Mandel

Summary. Public policymakers routinely receive and communicate information characterized by uncertainty. Decisions based on such information can have important consequences, so it is imperative that uncertainties are communicated effectively. Many organizations have developed dictionaries, or lexicons, that contain specific language (e.g., very likely, almost certain) to express uncertainty. But these lexicons vary greatly and only a [...]

Moving citizens online: Using salience & message framing to motivate behavior change

By Noah Castelo, Elizabeth Hardy, Julian House, Nina Mazar, Claire Tsai, & Min Zhao

Summary. To improve efficiency and reduce costs, government agencies provide more and more services online. Yet, sometimes people do not access these new services. For example, prior to our field experiment intervention, Ontario spent million annually on infrastructure needed for in-person license plate sticker renewals. In Canada’s most populous province, only 10% of renewals occurred [...]

Belonging nowhere: Marginalization & radicalization risk among Muslim immigrants

By Sarah Lyons-Padilla, Michele J. Gelfand, Hedieh Mirahmadi, Mehreen Farooq, & Marieke van Egmond

Summary. In the last 15 years, the threat of Muslim violent extremists emerging within Western countries has grown. Terrorist organizations based in the Middle East are recruiting Muslims in the United States and Europe via social media. Yet we know little about the factors that would drive Muslim immigrants in a Western country to heed this [...]

A personal touch in text messaging can improve microloan repayment

By Dean Karlan, Melanie Morten, & Jonathan Zinman

Summary. Because payment delays and defaults significantly affect both lenders and borrowers in fragile economies, strategies to improve timely loan repayment are needed to help make credit markets work smoothly. We worked with two microlenders to test the impact of randomly assigned text message reminders for loan repayments in the Philippines. Messages improved repayment only when [...]

The White House Social & Behavioral Sciences Team: Lessons learned from year one

By William J. Congdon and Maya Shankar

Summary. On September 15, 2015, President Obama signed Executive Order 13707 titled “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People.” The order directs federal agencies to integrate behavioral insights into their policies and programs and formally establishes the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST). Originally launched in 2014, SBST translates insights from behavioral science [...]

Policy Areas

Education & Culture
energy & environment
financial decision making
justice & ethics
management & labor
technology & innovation

Disciplinary Areas

behavioral economics
cognitive & brain science
decision, marketing, & management sciences
organizational science
political science
social psychology

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