Behavioral Insights Group

Can the location of a healthy snack food influence whether you make a healthier choice? Would a default "opt-in" setting make saving for retirement easier?

Launched in 2013 by faculty co-directors Iris Bohnet and Max Bazerman, the Behavioral Insights Group (BIG) brings together Harvard’s outstanding group of decision research scholars, behavioral economists, and other behavioral scientists to focus their energies on improving how decisions are made, both by leaders, and by individuals. BIG is driven by the belief that improving the quality of our leaders’ decisions is a core lever we possess to improve the world. When leaders and individuals make better decisions, an amazing array of changes can happen, including:

  • Improving educational systems,
  • Improving health,
  • Reducing discrimination,
  • Protecting the environment,
  • Managing finances better (both personal and organizational).

Recent books such as Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, and Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, have revealed how behavioral economics and other behavioral sciences shed light on decision making processes. These insights can do much more than improve how individuals make important personal decisions. They can also help leaders make better decisions about major policies—and ensure those policies effectively improve society.

BIG is fortunate that many of the world’s best decision research scholars, behavioral economists, and other behavioral scientists are at Harvard, and are eager to apply their expertise to our most challenging problems. In addition to our 35 faculty, BIG develops programming for students across Harvard through courses, co-curricular programming, connections to clients for research and project work such as Policy Analysis Exercises, and our 700-member Behavioral Insights Student Group. BIG has a robust network of governments and organizations that engage in behavioral science applications to policy, and we recently hosted Behavioral Exchange 2016, which brought together nearly 400 attendees from dozens of countries and sectors to discuss new research and potential for real-world applications.

BIG’s staff are always happy to talk with students, faculty, and organizations about their interests and potential connections. Please feel free to reach out to us. You can also join our mailing list, follow us on Twitter, or check out our jobs board, where we post behavioral science-specific jobs.