Nudge yourself into behavioral science – Where to start

By: Krishan Siew
8 min. read Last updated: August 26th, 2020

An experimenter’s introduction to applied behavioral science: Helpful resources for the curious.

If you aren’t leveraging the power of behavioral science, then you’re left behind.

Over the last decade, Widerfunnel has leveraged applied behavioral science and experimentation to help our clients solve their unique business problems. We uncover the underlying customer motivations and behaviors, and validate these insights through mixed methodologies and experimentation to deliver the best results to our clients.

While the term “applied behavioral science” can seem overwhelming, it is not just a whisper anymore among businesses and experts alike. Companies, thought-leaders, and those leading the pack are applying behavioral science to gain a better understanding of their customers and to solve the most challenging business problems.

Dive into our recommended list to learn about the foundations of applied behavioral science:

Books

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman, recognized for his work in economic sciences with the Nobel Prize in 2002, discusses the two systems of thinking in the brain and the cognitive biases associated with each and how the two systems shape our judgements and decisions.

Why we think you should read it:

A groundbreaking book, considered to be the behavioral economics book, it will help you understand the way our brains judge and make decisions and the flaws within that system. Backed by decades of academic behavioral science research, it will lay the foundations for more advanced topics as you continue your journey into behavioral sciences.

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Thaler, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to Behavioral Economics, and Sunstein explore how we make decisions and how these decisions are flawed, in-part because of how choices are presented to us. Nudge examines choice architecture and the responsibility we have to design choices to help people can make better decisions for themselves.

Why we think you should read it:

Nudge expands further on the two systems outlined in Thinking, Fast and Slow, and examines how our choices are influenced by our environment and context and that no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way. But by knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely
When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we’re making smart, rational choices. But are we? Dan Ariely challenges the reader’s assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Yet, these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable. As Ariely explains, “My goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you there by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are—how we repeat them again and again—I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them.”

Why we think you should read it:

In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Start at the End: How to Build Products That Create Change, by Matt Wallaert
Grounded in behavioural science, Start at the End offers a new framework for a practical approach to designing products and services that change behavior, from what we buy to how we work. Wallert, Chief Behavioral Officer at Clover Health and former behavioral scientist at Microsoft, states that the purpose of everything is behavior change. By starting with outcomes instead of processes, the most effective companies understand what people want to do and why they aren’t already doing it, then build products and services to bridge the gap.

This is an essential roadmap for building products that matter–and changing behavior for the better.

Why we think you should read it:

This is a book full of practical examples and tangible applications of behavioral science in product design. By starting at the end (focusing on outcomes), companies can understand what their customers want to do, the reasons why they may not be doing it, and then work to design products and services to solve those problems. Wallert writes with clarity and humor of how this approach can improve the way we work and live.

Podcasts

Behavioral Grooves Podcast
Behavioral Grooves is a podcast where Kurt Nelson, Ph.D. and Tim Houlihan, along with their guests, apply behavioral science to work and life to explore the “why we do what we do” question.

Available on: Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Web

Action Design Radio
Action Design Radio is a podcast that explores a variety of topics through a behavioral science and psychology lens. Hosts Erik Johnson and Zarak Khan interview experts and practitioners to learn about cutting edge behavioral research and how to practically apply it to fields such as public policy and consumer products.

Available on: Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Web

Hidden Brain
Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Available on: Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Web

Case Studies

Behavioral Evidence Hub
This is an ideal hub for those who are interested in innovative research and solutions from around the world that showcase on how people act and make decisions in real life. Many of these research and results are often buried in academic journals, and the Behavioral Evidence Hub (B-Hub) brings them into the light of day. On the B-Hub you’ll find strategies proven to amplify the impact of programs, products, and services—and improve lives.

Email Newsletters

Behavioral Scientists
The Behavioral Scientist is a non-profit online magazine that offers readers original, thought-provoking reports from the front lines of behavioral science. Born out of the labs and offices of leading researchers, practitioners, and journalists, their mission is to make the valuable insights gathered from behavioral science accessible and useful to all.

You will also find reports on developments in the field, summaries of new key findings, interviews with experts, coverage of recently published books, and curated content from across the web — here, the latest behavioral science research and content are all in one place.

Habit Weekly
Curated by Samuel Salzer, Habit Weekly delivers a hand-picked list of the best and latest behavioral design content to its readers every week.

Behavioral Design is the practice of designing for behavior change and it blends insights from several fascinating fields. So it doesn’t matter if you are an enthusiast in Behavioral Economics, Behavioral Science, Psychology, Gamification, UX, or design thinking — as long as you want to better understand how to create behavior change in practice, this newsletter will be for you.

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