BI Library

Behavioural Insights Library

Behavioural Insights (BI) uses research methods and insights from the behavioural and decision sciences to explore how we make decisions and to help us make decisions that have a positive impact on individuals, communities and organizations, and the planet. Check out the resources below to learn more.

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What is Behavioural Insights?

Using a combination of social science methods, the discipline of Behavioural Insights (BI) examines how people behave and make decisions in the real world. Although most of us have good intentions – we want to eat better, save more, exercise more – we don’t always make decisions in our own best interest.

By accounting for the ways that people make decisions and behave in the real world, we can better design programs, policies, services, and products. We can use this knowledge to design and test improved approaches or new approaches that will encourage positive changes in consumers, citizens, or employees.

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s 2008 book Nudge encouraged policymakers and executives to consider making small evidence-based changes to policy and product development and design to encourage people to make choices that will increase “health, wealth, and happiness”. Importantly, these changes should be rigorously tested before being rolled out widely.

In the decade since Nudge was published, there has been a growing body of research that examines how to effectively bring about behaviour change. Simultaneously, businesses and governments around the world have started to see the potential in designing programs, policies, services, and products for how people actually behave. Integrating BI into policy and product development and design provides an alternative to complex legislation and/or costly marketing; BI changes often cost very little to test and implement, yet have large impacts.

Governments and organizations around the world are building BI capacity into their operations. At last count, there were well over 200 BI units around the world; Canada is no exception with BI units at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government and BI being actively used by over a dozen Crown corporations and within many leading Canadian businesses.

Adapted from Liz Hardy & Rodney Ghali’s 2019 Apolitical article: Moving beyond nudges: What’s next for behavioural insights?

Behavioural Science Books

These four resources provide a very good introduction to Behavioural Insights and will help you build a good foundation.

These popular applied behavioural science books are recommended further reading.

Note: Book links are to Massy Books, an Indigenous owned and operated bookstore located in Vancouver.


Our Podcast
Calling DIBS podcast logo

Calling DIBS: Join host Kirstin Appelt, Research Director of UBC Decision Insights for Business & Society (UBC-DIBS), as she interviews Behavioural Insights enthusiasts and experts from BC and beyond to explore: how BI is being used across sectors to tackle challenges large and small, how BI intersects with other fields, how to conduct BI projects, and how BI is advancing with new research.

Top 5 Other Podcasts
  1. Hidden Brain: Using science and storytelling, host Shankar Vedantam explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and questions that lie at the heart of our complex and changing world.
  2. Freakonomics Radio: Discover the hidden side of everything with Stephen J. Dubner. Each week, Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do).
  3. Choiceology: Hosted by Dr. Katy Milkman from UPenn Wharton’s Behavior Change for Good initiative, Choiceology explores the lessons of behavioral economics to help you improve your judgment and change for good.
  4. Inside the Nudge Unit: From the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), this podcast series explore the fascinating world of Behavioural Insights and the work BIT does all around the world.
  5. 99% Invisible: A narrative podcast hosted by Roman Mars about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
Yet More Great Podcasts
  • Action Design Radio: Action Design Radio explores a variety of topics through the lens of behavioral science and psychology. 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 like public policy and consumer products.
  • The Behavioral Design Podcast: A fun and engaging way to learn about applied behavioral science and how to design for behavior change hosted by Aline Holzwarth and Samuel Salzer.
  • Behavioral Grooves: Behavioral Grooves is more than a podcast, it’s also vessel for building a community of people who are interested in learning how to positively apply behavioral science to their work and life.
  • The Black Goat: Three psychologists talk about doing science. Hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire.
  • A Bunch of BS: Hosted by Dr. Nick Hobson, this podcast is for people whose work involves humans. Whatever your line of work, somewhere along the way there’s a human behaving (probably in a weird way). Enter: behavioral science.
  • The Decision Corner: Practical insights & advice on how we can use science to improve our decisions as individuals and as a society, from some of the world’s top experts.
  • EconTalk: A weekly economics podcast hosted by Russ Roberts, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Roberts typically interviews a single guest—often professional economists—on topics in economics.
  • For the Love of Work: Dr. Sonia Kang’s aspirational, inspirational and practical guide to self-actualization, as seen through the growing lens of the “employee experience.” This podcast is a playbook for anyone looking for practical solutions to today’s workplace challenges.
  • The Happiness Lab: You might think more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations would make you happy. You’re dead wrong. Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will forever alter the way you think about happiness.
  • Invisibilia: Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.
  • The Knowledge Project: The Knowledge Project Podcast unlocks your potential. We interview world-class doers and thinkers so you can better analyze problems, seize opportunities, and master decision-making. Every episode is packed with lessons and insights that never expire.
  • More or Less: Behind the Stats: Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4.
  • No Stupid Questions: Stephen J. Dubner and research psychologist Angela Duckworth really like to ask people questions, and came to believe there’s no such thing as a stupid one. So they made a podcast where they can ask each other as many “stupid questions” as they want. 
  • Nudges for Social Good: The UK Local Government Association’s podcast series explores how councils across the country have used Behavioural Insights to nudge their residents into different ways of living.
  • The Psych Files A podcast for anyone who wonders why we do what we do. Experienced educator Dr. Michael Britt shows you how ideas from the field of psychology apply to everyday life.
  • The Psychology Podcast: Host Scott Barry Kaufman explores the depths of human potential. In each episode, inspiring and thought-provoking guests will stimulate your mind, and give you a greater understanding of yourself, others, and the world we live in.
  • Questioning Behaviour: Hosted by Sarah Bowen and Merle van den Akker, this podcast talks about all things Behavioural Science (and PhD).
  • Revisionist History: Join Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.
  • Two Guys on Your Head: Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain. In conversations hosted by producer Rebecca McInroy, the two renowned psychologists cover everything from the effects of sugar on the brain, to what’s happening in our minds while we sleep, and much, much more.
  • Two Psychologists, Four Beers: Two psychologists endeavour to drink four beers while discussing news and controversies in science, academia, and beyond.
  • Very Bad Wizards A podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro) discussing moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.
  • WorkLife: Organizational psychologist Adam Grant takes you inside some truly unusual places, where they’ve figured out how to make work not suck.

Webinars & Videos

Our Seminar Series & Videos

UBC-DIBS Seminar: Our monthly online seminar series features leading behavioural science practitioners and researchers sharing their lab and field projects.

BI Briefs: These short videos from the BIG Difference BC conference planning team provide 1- to 2-minute introductions to key Behavioural Insights ideas.

BIG Difference BC: These recordings of talks from past BIG Difference BC conferences are great case studies of using behavioural science for positive social impact across sectors.

Top Videos & Webinar Series
  • BEAR x BIOrg: This speaker series from the University of Toronto’s Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) features top behavioural scientists and practitioners who share the latest research and insights with managers and policymakers.
  • Behavior Change for Good: This webinar series features presentations or discussions with leading Behavioural and Decision Science researchers and authors. Recordings are available for most sessions.
  • Behavioural Insights Team (BIT): Webinar series where experts from BIT’s global offices explore how Behavioural Insights are being used to tackle the most pressing policy problems of our time.
  • UN Innovation Network Library of Webinars: Library of webinars hosted by various UN entities to uncover emerging good practices, showcase successful projects and learn about opportunity areas for innovation, data and digital transformation.

Newsletters & Blogs

Our Newsletter & Blog

BIG Difference BC newsletter: Our monthly newsletter shares Behavioural Insights news, choice events, reads, and tips, and other highlights from across our cross-sectoral community of BI enthusiasts and experts in British Columbia and beyond.

BIG Difference BC blog: Our blog features a wide variety of content, including glimpses of how practitioners use BI, examples of BI in the wild, case studies, topical issues, and guest posts from community members.

Other Top Newsletters
  • BEAR x BIOrg newsletter: Regular newsletter from the University of Toronto’s Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) centre and Behaviourally Informed Organizations (BIOrg) that shares upcoming events, recent projects, and other BI news.
  • Behavioral Science Weekly Roundup: Weekly newsletter from the Behavioral Science and Policy Association that rounds up BI headlines, social media, events, and more.
  • Behavioral Scientist Email Edition: The Behavioral Scientist is a non-profit digital magazine whose mission is to make the valuable insights gathered from behavioral science accessible and useful to society. The weekly newsletter features original commentary and a selection of articles from around the web.
  • BIT newsletter: Regular newsletter from the Behavioural Insights Team that profiles recent projects, upcoming events, and opportunities to work with BIT.
  • Centre for Advanced Hindsight newsletter: Regular newsletter that shares the latest behavioral research, events and resources.
  • Habit Weekly: Weekly newsletter sharing articles, videos, podcasts, and exclusive premium content from the world of behavioral science and
  • OPSI newsletter: Newsletter from the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation that shares the latest perspectives from the field, analysis, interviews, and event news. business.
Other Top Blogs
  • Behavioral Scientist: A non-profit digital magazine whose mission is to make the valuable insights gathered from behavioral science accessible and useful to society. They publish commentaries and conversations on current events, culture, and research.
  • The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT): This blog series summarizes the Behavioural Insights work that BIT does all around the world.
  • ideas42: This blog series covers thoughts and insights from ideas42’s work applying behavioral science to social problems.
  • Oh, Behave: A behaviorist blog transforming businesses and brands – to be better, to do better. Taking the human scientific approach to business strategy to drive high-impact behavior change.
  • OPSI: Blog from the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation that shares the latest perspectives from the field, analysis, interviews, and event news.

BI Units & Case Studies

Our Behavioural Insights Units

Decision Insights for Business & Society (UBC-DIBS): A behavioural research and policy solutions initiative at UBC Sauder School of Business. See our 2023-2024 report, 2022-2023 report, working papers, and research overviews.

BC Behavioural Insights Group (BC BIG): Our partners in the BC government are a unit within the Ministry of Citizens’ Services that applies behavioural insights to complex public policy challenges. See their 2021 report.

Other Top Behavioural Insights Units

The OECD maintains a global map of public-sector BI units: The cross-sectoral list below is representative rather than exhaustive.

Canadian Public-Sector and Social Purpose BI Units:

Notable BI Units Around the World:

Databases & Journals

Databases for Academic & Practitioner Case Studies

Peer-Reviewed Journals. There are countless peer-reviewed journals that feature applied behavioural science research. Here is a small sampling:

Note: For tips on how to conduct secondary research (including academic literature reviews and cross-jurisdictional scans), visit the Resources for the RIDE page under “Research”.

Recent Wiki Posts About Media & Case Studies

More Media & Case Study Posts

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