Behavioral Sciences as innovation method is an approach to insights generation and solution design. Behavioral diagnosis and design generally begins with analysis of qualitative research results and quantitative data, to better understand the parameters of the problem space. 

This method works best to investigate behaviors and needs within an initial set of hypotheses, focusing on precise, controlled assessment of well defined behaviours and alternative behavioral choices across the user experience. It is also ideal for contexts that require exploration of alternative, discrete features and where live experimentation can be feasibly conducted and adjusted in a rapid manner across several control groups simultaneously.

Behavioral sciences is increasingly reliant on rapid prototyping to evaluate its various hypotheses and to understand the reasons for differences in response to various behavioral tactics.



Core Team Behavioral economics experts, program team (funders)
Qualitative & quantitative research experts or agencies (if applicable)
Implementation partner grounded in the field
Innovation Cycle Can be designed to suit any stage of innovation but the program needs to have a clearly defined set of hypotheses to validate through the method
Key Roles Research experts: Provide expertise in their own domain
Program participants: Collaborate with experts from various fields to provide in-depth knowledge on the program goals & needs
Essential Tools Empirical research data: Provides the grounding conditions to understand the context and knowledge base to build solid hypotheses
Live experiments on control groups: Allows to identify parameters clearly that can validate hypotheses
Rapid prototyping: Tool to make hypotheses more tangible & experiments more effective
Outputs Quantitative data, choice architecture, incentives and pricing models, marketing strategies, surveys
Cost & Time Cost: Research experts, engaging research participants, diversity of target groups & sample size, prototyping fidelity, live experimentation provisions
Time: Scale of the research (participants, location) is the key factor


Taking a behavioral lens

The field of behavioral science, which draws on economics, psychology, and related disciplines, has rapidly gained momentum by offering a new perspective on the complexity of human behavior. As humans, we often behave in unexpected ways – we sometimes make quirky decisions that seem to defy common sense or we may change our minds from one day to the next. What we see, time and time again, is that our preferences do not always define our actions and the context around us plays a huge role in shaping our perceptions and behavior. Behavioral science unpacks these influences on human behavior and suggests solutions for designing programs, products, and services that are better aligned with real, rather than idealized, human tendencies.

Define and diagnose before designing

Understanding how people make decisions and what drives behavior is complex. And, because so much of this happens unconsciously, this understanding cannot usually be gleaned from more traditional consumer insight methods. Applied behavioral science provides a new lens and a methodology for identifying and diagnosing behavioral problems, as well as a toolkit of innovative and often low-cost solutions to address these challenges. This approach and behavioral science tools can be used to pursue many different policy goals.

The importance of testing

Behavior is highly context dependent. For this reason, a successful solution in one context or time, may not always work in a different context or time. Instead of relying on potentially biased intuitions about what is effective, systematic experimentation allows practitioners to test program or service designs on small, randomly selected groups to distinguish how different features and nudges affect individual decisions. Furthermore,  rigorous testing can also help decision makers derive credible, science-based evidence on which program or product features, which channels, and which strategies most effectively spur desired behavior.