Behavioural Insights in Action August 2013 Event

20 August 2013Behavioural Insights Unit


Tagsacademic, behavioural insights, case study, charity, event, forum, nsw, research, speakers, uk

‘Behavioural Insights in Action’ run in partnership with IPAA, saw over 100 participants attend from across the public sector, private sector and academia.

Professor Mary OKane Professor Clifford Hughes Professor Peter John Peter Achterstraacht and Steve Brady

‘Behavioural Insights in Action’ run in partnership with IPAA, saw over 100 participants attend from across the public sector, private sector and academia.

Professor Peter John of the UK BI Team’s Academic Advisory Board kicked off the event with some insights in to how behavioural interventions can prompt citizens to act pro-socially, stimulating them to carry out more civic acts. Using an example of charitable giving of books in the UK, he emphasized that behavioural approaches can often be very simple interventions, such as changing language in letters and using social norms to increase book donations. Professor John highlighted the importance of using randomised controlled trials in BI, where possible, to build the evidence-base. You can hear Professor John’s speech here.

Next we heard from Professor Clifford Hughes, Chief Executive of the Clinical Excellence Commission, who discussed ‘between the flags’, a response system that was developed for NSW hospitals to prevent patient deterioration. These standardised charts have led to a decrease in the number of preventable deaths in hospitals. What was the key to its success? Strong support from executive leadership, a good state-wide implementation plan, effective branding and marketing, strong governance, strong partnerships, and awareness and education of hospital staff to ensure its successful uptake. It was a great example of BI in action in NSW, and you can hear about it in more depth here.

Participants then engaged in some Q&A with panel members, before moving to small group discussions. Presenters from the Office of Environment and Heritage, Transport NSW and the Cancer Institute NSW spoke about case studies of behavioural insights being applied in NSW.

Here are some interesting points that were raised in discussions:

  • While the use of BI in projects in NSW is not new, the MINDSPACE and EAST frameworks provide useful structures to develop behavioural interventions
  • When implementing BI, buy-in is important, especially from an executive level and from ‘front-line workers’ (such as in the examples of the Home Power Savings Program, and Between the Flags)
  • Where possible RCTs should be used to inform the evidence-base for interventions. The effect size of RCTs should be carefully considered
  • Humour can be an important tool in reframing social norms, as we saw with the ‘Pinkie’ campaign. It is crucial to strike a balance when applying humour to serious issues like speeding; however, if you hit the right note it can be very powerful
  • We need to consider flow-on effects of interventions, and try to capture unintended consequences in the evaluation process.

Thank you to all who took part in the event!