Photo credit: Katy Milkman

The BSPA was thrilled to have a front row seat at Tuesday’s announcement of President Obama’s new executive order and the release of the Social and Behavioral Science Team’s remarkable report. For more, here’s SBST Maya Shankar talking to All Things Considered’s Robert Siegel on NPR, and reports from New York Magazine’s Jesse Singal, The Psych Report, Mark Egan, the Association for Psychological Science, and Maya Shankar’s own blog post. Forbes also covered the event, echoing one of the aspects of the report that impressed me the most:

“[Is the SBST] really trying to improve our government and lives? Or are they manipulating us to do whatever Uncle Sam wants?

The most effective response is transparency. Tell the American people about the experiments, their goals, and their results. The SBST deserves good marks on that dimension. Its first report provides a good deal of information about each of the pilot studies, both the successes and the failures. As behavioral approaches spread, the government should build on that transparency to ensure that policymakers, media, and the public have the evidence they need to judge their merits.”

Alongside the SBST’s report, the Behavioral Science and Policy Association also announced the launch of the Behavioral Science and Policy Series, which will work to “identify promising avenues for applying behavioral science to public policy at the Federal level in order to improve Americans' lives.” Comprised of close to 20 non-profits and academic institutions, the Series aims to “deliver white papers that propose particular applications of behavioral science that can be applied, tested, and implemented at the Federal level in the near term.”

You can read the entire press release here; below are some selected comments on the Series:

“This is a clear case where government is ahead of business.  Business has been slow to adopt the findings of behavioral science to build policies and procedures based on rigorous evidence (see your favorite company's hiring, compensation, evaluation, or capital allocation routines for plenty of evidence of arbitrary tradition rather than rigorous experimentation). The new BSPS initiative should serve as a wonderful challenge for decision makers in every sector to improve their game.”

-Chip Heath, Stanford University Professor and author of Decisive, Made to Stick, and Switch

"There’s a powerful idea that can build a bridge across ideological lines: designing and improving policies based on the science of how real people behave. I'm delighted that the SBST has been working to steer the federal government towards data-driven policies, and the new initiative with BSPA promises to take these efforts to the next level."

-Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

The details of the Series, including the specific areas that the workshops will be focused on, will be finalized in the coming weeks. Our hope is that we can facilitate this exciting new collaboration between academics and practitioners, so that we arm the government and other policy makers with the cutting edge tools and knowledge to make the next wave of efforts to improve the lives of Americans – and people around the world – as successful as this last one.