Behavioural ScienceCat Rebak

How Richard Thaler paved the way for modern-day behavioural science

Last week Richard Thaler won the Nobel prize for his work in behavioural economics, a field that explores how people act in predictably irrational ways. Thaler is the third behavioural scientist to win the prize following Daniel Kahneman (2002) and Robert Shiller (2013). This recognition is well-deserved, and represents yet another sign that the field is important, powerful, and here-to-stay.

Richard Thaler Wins the Nobel Prize!

When asked how he would spend his prize money, Thaler said "I will spend it as irrationally as possible." Congratulations from everyone at 2CV!

Without Thaler it's almost impossible to imagine behavioural science as it is today. After publishing Nudge in 2008, Thaler sparked a revolution in how the world understands why we do the things we do, and pioneered a new approach to influence behaviour by embracing the irrational side of human nature. Fast forward to the present day and:

  • Top universities (e.g. Harvard, Berkeley, Warwick, and UCL to name a few) are now strongly committed to the field.
  • The UK and US governments have created specialist teams who use behavioural insights to inform policy.
  • Multi-nationals (e.g. the World Bank) and businesses worldwide are now applying behavioural insights to all areas of industry.

At 2CV, we recognise that behavioural science is a powerful tool to help us understand why people do the things they do, and to support behaviour change. Our behavioural science team are dedicated to helping our clients go beyond what people think and feel to uncover all the factors that influence decision-making. From inspiring innovative approaches and methodologies to understanding system 1 responses (e.g. facial coding and implicit associations), to applying behavioural insights to improve the effectiveness of communications and interventions, it's a core part of what we do.

Cathryn Rebak is a behavioural science specialist & qualitative researcher at 2CV. She is part of the London team and has a strong interest in the use of behavioural insights, human-centred design, and biometric tech for social innovation.