The answers to these questions – and so many other perplexities of human behaviour – are the domain of behavioural science.
“Our minds are not able to tease apart the useful information from the irrelevant information.”
– Iris Bohnet
To Solve the Environmental Crisis, We Must Foster the Power to Imagine
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.
As consumers, we are faced with a virtually endless range of “natural” products. We can start our mornings with a piece of toast slathered in all-natural smooth peanut butter and wash our clothes in naturally dirt-demolishing laundry detergent, while those of us with certain habits can enjoy a natural American Spirit cigarette when the craving hits.
I will admit that I sometimes fall into the climate-doomism camp. As a sustainability and behavioral scientist steeped in a steady stream of information about how much we have to do and how often we fail to do it, it can be hard to feel optimistic. I was surprised—then chastened, then angered—when I realized that my climate despair might actually be a tool being wielded by those looking to undermine climate action.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes essential to understand why people refuse or indefinitely delay vaccination. A new Polish study, conducted at the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland) and the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Wroclaw, Poland) and published in the peer-reviewed scholarly journal Social Psychological Bulletin, brings up the impact of the active spread of attention-grabbing anti-vaccine arguments, as well as the overall distrust in the Big Pharma, science and health providers.
Young dogs, apes and other animals develop skills needed to survive and reproduce. People tend to think of play as an activity one engages in at one’s leisure, outside of learning important skills needed to succeed later in life, such as hunting, mating, and evading predators. But although playing is fun for all involved—and fun for those who are watching—play behaviours evolved as ritualised forms of survival skills needed later in life, providing the opportunity to perfect those skills.