The answers to these questions – and so many other perplexities of human behaviour – are the domain of behavioural science.
“January is always a good month for behavioural economics: Few things illustrate self-control as vividly as New Year’s resolutions. February is even better, though, because it lets us study why so many of those resolutions are broken.”
Scientists sharing Omicron data were heroic. Let’s ensure they don’t regret it
This Mail & Guardian webinar was sponsored by The Behaviour Change Agency. Speakers included Antoine Ferrere, Global Head of Behavioural Science at Novartis, Switzerland; Matthew Battersby, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Reinsurance Group of America, United Kingdom; Aimee Wesso, Advanced Strategic Specialist at Afrocentric Group; Pat Govender, Founder and Managing Director of The Behaviour Change Agency and Dr Anam Nyembezi, Behavioural Medicine Specialist and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape.
Publicity has been given to the planned creation of a ‘metaverse’ by Facebook. A ‘metaverse’ is a term given to the evolution of the internet into a virtual world in which people interact through digital selves or avatars. According to Facebook: “In the coming years ... people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company … In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.”1 The motivation behind this development is somewhat unclear, and the public justifications given by the company to date are scientifically incoherent or improbable. However, there is research evidence that helps us understand the likely outcomes of a metaverse for mental health.
Now that the FDA approved emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, it’s essential for as many as possible to get vaccinated. But successfully rolling out the vaccine to young children will require a different approach than for adults. The FDA approval represents a watershed moment in the fight against COVID-19, yet many parents, even those who are vaccinated themselves, are hesitant to vaccinate their children.
It suits governments to lecture us on our consumption, but they need to offer systemic change if we are to tackle the climate crisis. The protesters gathered in Glasgow for Cop26 are a diverse group – at the demonstration on Saturday I watched everybody file past – from international socialists to Scottish nationalists, healthcare workers to striking refuse workers, from indigenous activists at the very front to cycling enthusiasts at the very back.
Readers consuming fake news, investors ignoring a bear market, Internet users giving away valuable personal data in online quizzes: All of these trends can have dramatic consequences for the individuals involved as well as for society, and none are well explained by traditional economics. George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, discussed his research on these trends and other topics at the Behavioral Insights in Action conference, hosted by the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Department of Social and Decision Sciences.