The new journal Behavioral Science & Policy just published a PDF of its inaugural issue. You can download it at:

Here’s what the editors have to say about the first issue:

This first issue is representative of our vision for BSP. We are pleased to publish an outstanding set of contributions from leading scholars who have worked hard to make their work accessible to readers outside their fields. A subset of manuscripts is clustered into a Spotlight Topic section that examines a specific theme in some depth, in this case, “Challenging Assumptions about Behavioral Policy.”

Our opening essay discusses the importance of behavioral science for enhanced policy design and implementation, and illustrates various approaches to putting this work into practice. The essay also provides a more detailed account of our objectives for Behavioral Science & Policy. In particular, we discuss the importance of using policy challenges as a starting point and then asking what practical insights can be drawn from relevant behavioral science, rather than the more typical path of producing research findings in search of applications.

Our inaugural Spotlight Topic section includes four articles. Wilson and Juarez challenge the assumption that intuitively compelling policy initiatives can be presumed to be effective, and illustrate the importance of evidence based program evaluation. Cialdini, Martin, and Goldstein challenge the notion that large policy effects require large interventions, and provide evidence that small (even costless) actions grounded in behavioral science research can pay big dividends. Sunstein challenges the point of view that providing individuals with default options is necessarily more paternalistic than requiring them to make an active choice. Instead, Sunstein suggests, people sometimes prefer the option of deferring technical decisions to experts and delegating trivial decisions to others. Thus, forcing individuals to choose may constrain rather than enhance individual free choice. In the final Spotlight paper, Loewenstein, Bryce, Hagmann, and Rajpal challenge the assumption that behavioral “nudges,” such as strategic use of defaults, are only effective when kept secret. In fact, these authors report a study in which they explicitly inform participants that they have been assigned an arbitrary default (for advance medical directives). Surprisingly, disclosure does not greatly diminish the impact of the nudge.

This issue also includes four regular articles. Goh, Pfeffer, and Zenios provide evidence that corporate executives concerned with their employees’ health should attend to a number of workplace practices—including high job demands, low job control, and a perceived lack of fairness—that can produce more harm than the well-known threat of exposure to secondhand smoke. Knoll, Appelt, Johnson, and Westfall find that the most obvious approach to getting individuals to delay claiming retirement benefits (present information in a way that highlights benefits of claiming later) does not work. But a process intervention in which individuals are asked to think about the future before considering their current situation better persuades them to delay making retirement claims. Larrick, Soll, and Keeney identify four principles for developing better energy-use metrics to enhance consumer understanding and promote energy conservation. Finally, Manary, Staelin, Boulding, and Glickman provide a new analysis challenging the idea that a hospital’s responses to the demographic traits of individual patients, including their race, may explain disparities in quality of health care. Instead, it appears that this observation is driven by differences in insurance coverage among these groups. Hospitals serving larger numbers of patients with no insurance or with government insurance receive less revenue to pay for expenses such as wages, training, and equipment updates. In this case, the potential behavioral explanation does not appear to be correct; it may come down to simple economics.


You can find a list of behavioral science publications, including BSP, here.


Alain Samson, Ph.D., is the founder of and Managing Director of Behavioral Science Solutions Ltd.

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