BIG Difference BC convened in November 2022 for a milestone fifth conference, continuing its legacy of bringing together scholars and business leaders to explore how human psychology, cognitive science and interventions driven by Behavioural Insights (BI) can inform better policy decisions. It put a spotlight on how BI can drive positive change—from addressing large systemic issues like racism to helping cultivate small but sustainable practices to improve household energy efficiency.
This year, the conference—co-hosted by UBC’s Decision Insights for Business and Society (UBC-DIBS), the BC Behavioural Insights Group (BC BIG), and WorkSafeBC — examined how BI can be used towards innovative solutions that shape positive, long-lasting changes in behaviour and in societies at-large.
Kirstin Appelt, Research Director of UBC-DIBS, says this year’s theme reflects how the field of BI is evolving in its efforts to affect meaningful transformation in people. “We are really excited to shine a spotlight on long-term change, because short-term change is only the start,” says Appelt. “If, for example, BI helps someone recycle today, that’s great, but the impact is somewhat small. In contrast, if BI helps someone develop a recycling habit that sticks for months or years or a lifetime, that is real, meaningful, impactful change. For BI to successfully tackle important challenges, we need to create those lasting changes in behaviour.”
Using behavioural science to tackle structural racism
Crystal Hall, Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, delivered the keynote address, in which she explored how BI could help create anti-racism policies.
“In the past, behavioural science has usually focused on individuals. I wanted to talk about how we can better acknowledge and account for bigger forces—such as structural racism that affects large communities—when engaging in behavioural science,” says Professor Hall.
For Professor Hall, this approach of using BI within the context of a collective community’s interaction with their environment is key in addressing the event’s theme: creating long-lasting change.
“If we really want to create deep sustained change, we have to get to the core of some of these problems. And usually that core is directly linked to big issues like structural racism.”
To read the full story, and to view the recorded sessions, please visit the Sauder School of Business news site.
Through Strategy 16: Public Relevance, UBC is working to align our efforts more closely with priority issues in British Columbia and beyond, through dialogue and knowledge exchange.