Many organisations now engage with the idea of applying behavioural insights to their organisational challenges, since these issues require behaviour change of some kind. What is more, many companies, charities and public bodies are recognising the power of testing their products and policies in real world environments. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge the increasing recognition of the impact of behavioural science on the research methods, and be aware of the limitations of traditional market research and customer insight.
Dual Process Theory
In both cognitive and social psychology we talk about a dual process theory and the distinction between two kinds of thinking, one fast and intuitive, the other slow and deliberative. It is proven that cognitive tasks evoke two forms of processing that contribute to observed behaviour. Often, the two processes consist of an implicit (automatic), unconscious process and an explicit (controlled), conscious process. The dual-process accounts of reasoning posits that there are two systems or minds in one brain. The broad terms System 1 and System 2 were coined by Stanovich and West.
Basically we have two brains. One to respond to the environmental influences and another one that we have a conscious access to.
System 1 (unconscious reasoning) – this is our limbic reptilian brain, which is a hardware that evolved over billions of years of evolution, it is a hardware to respond to the environmental and situational influences .
System 2 (conscious reasoning) – is the part of the brain that we think drives most of what we do as we have an access to this part. It is known as the rational system because it reasons according to logical standards. Some overall properties associated with System 2 are that it is rule-based, analytic, controlled, demanding of cognitive capacity, and slow.
What can behaviour science do to design more effective strategy and intervention policies ?
We often do not have an insight into what drives our actions. Everyone’s life, personal life and work life is really about influencing people, isn’t it ?
The dual process theory has influenced social studies in the following areas: stereotyping, categorization, and judgment. In particular it has the biggest impact on a person’s perception. People usually perceive other people’s information and categorize them by age, gender, race, or role
If we can find out how best to tweak System 1 , we could have broadly similar effect on everyone with no difference to gender, age or race. With this knowledge we could create more effective strategy and intervention policies. By using methods drawn from psychology, economics, philosophy, mathematics and statistics, we could conduct applications for business and policy.
Behavioural science asks fundamental questions including:
- Are people rational?
- What principles govern human behaviour?
- What interventions lead to behaviour change?
- How and why do people cooperate and coordinate with others?
- How do culture and institutional factors interact with individual behaviour?
- What are the psychological and economic foundations of value?
These kinds of questions are of fundamental importance to firms, governments, and society.
I strongly recommend Paul Cozby’s book on Methods in Behavioural Research which presents helpful pedagogy and rich examples of concise and strategic approach to methodological decision-making.