A Behavioural Approach to International Development

14 October 2019

Over the past few months, The Behavioural Architects have written a three-part series with The Behavioral Scientist, deep diving into how behavioural science is being applied in the context of international development.

While this is a fascinating topic, and there were many different avenues we could have ventured down, we specifically focused on the ways good intentions can go amiss, the pitfalls of misperceptions, and the lessons we can draw from designing and implementing interventions in the field. The series is rich in insights, learnings and actions that will collectively take you on a compelling journey full of unexpected twists and turns.

Here’s a quick preview to whet your appetite!

Our first article “Teddies for Timor” and the Perils of Good Intentions looks at how we can use behavioural science to encourage cash donations in times of crisis.

Unfortunately, a wealth of research shows that in-kind donations of goods, while popular among donors, tend to lead to large amounts of waste in post-crisis zones. In light of this, we look at the behavioural drivers (and biases) that motivate people to donate in-kind - despite its inefficiencies - and how we can use insights from behavioural science to encourage a shift from in-kind to cash; to improve the efficiency of aid giving, and ultimately better help those struck by disaster...

Our second article Busting Misbeliefs to Improve Women’s Well-being explores misconceptions around women’s issues in different contexts, and how we can use behavioural science to combat these misbeliefs to drive better outcomes for women’s well-being.

Let us highlight an example: in Saudi Arabia, women need their husband’s permission to work outside of the home. A research team found that while the majority of men (87%!) believed that women should be able to work outside of the home, they also vastly underestimated the level of support from other men. These misperceptions of the injunctive social norm - what more people approve of or believe - leads to compliance with the established norm for fear of disapproval of others and contributes to a large proportion of men keeping their wives in the home. Correcting these misconceptions is therefore a key step in encouraging behaviour change and improving women’s employment outside of the household...

Our third and final article in the series Saving Lives By Closing the Intention-Action Gap looks at how behavioural insights have helped the design and implementation of two interventions in rural India and Kenya, promoting healthier behaviours among citizens.

We can all probably relate to a time (or many!) where we’ve meant to do something, understand why we should do it, but never actually end up doing it. This is a universal phenomenon among humans, and where this may be frustrating at best, in some contexts - for sanitation and health behaviours - it can be fatal. In rural India, for example, information about the benefits of hand washing is widespread. However, while knowledge may have been improved through information campaigns, the action is still missing... We highlight two projects that successfully closed the intention-action gap, using behavioural science to influence actual behavioural change, rather than simply push information.

These articles show how behavioural science is being increasingly adopted in international development and it is wonderful to see its power in action, helping to address some of our most pressing global challenges.

We hope you enjoy them, and please let us know your thoughts!

The Behavioural Architects' articles are always stimulating, entertaining and informative and make BE principles both engaging as well as usable for all our readers Editor Impact Magazine and Research-live.com
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Its client testimonials show it has made behavioural economics accessible and actionable MRS judges ‘best new agency’ award
TBA have brought behavioural science thinking to some of our challenges in a way that is accessible for colleagues from across the business and has created actionable outputs Martin Bryant, Senior Consumer Insights Manager, KFC UK and Ireland
The Behavioural Architects did a great job of understanding our needs in this multinational project. They used a behavioural-led methodology to deliver clear and actionable output Ruchika Khattar, Global Marketing Innovation Manager, PepsiCo
One of the best articulated deliveries of insight I have seen in 20 years in the research sector. Damian Stevenson, Head of Insight at the Amateur Swimming Association
The behaviour change research has been the lynchpin of our entire new strategy to get more people swimming Nick Caplin, Amateur Swimming Association, Director of Participation
I’ve worked with TBA on a number of studies... all of them have allowed us to get to a depth of insight into basic behaviour that has transcended borders. Catherine Moffatt, Vice President Global Shopper Planning & Customer Marketing, Diageo
The magic comes from how TBA works with us to get to simple, actionable ideas using the BE principles. Catherine Moffatt, Vice President Global Shopper Planning & Customer Marketing, Diageo
Every project has resulted in activities that have unlocked growth for Diageo but, importantly, they’re also pieces of work that we keep going back to and that continue to inform new activities long after the original studies were run. Catherine Moffatt, Vice President Global Shopper Planning & Customer Marketing, Diageo
We tasked TBA with a challenging brief on a national survey and they exceeded all our expectations throughout the process Jennifer Bufton, Sport England 
Their enthusiasm and relevant application of this theory alongside highly actionable and impactful insight delivery that really engages our stakeholders. Jacinda Norman, Category Insights Manager, Waitrose
The team at The Behavioural Architects Sydney have played an instrumental role in uncovering the key behavioural challenges for the Bundaberg Rum brand. Clara Lee, Senior Insights Manager, Diageo Australia
By using behavioural principles in analysing research, we’ve been able to go beyond the rational system 2 responses and tap into the deeper, subconscious system 1 responses that are often difficult to articulate. Clara Lee, Senior Insights Manager, Diageo Australia
For the first time in over a decade, we have clarity on the shift that we need to make to bring our brand back into growth. Clara Lee, Senior Insights Manager, Diageo Australia
The TBA team are a friendly, highly organised and intelligent bunch of people to work with. We consider them an extension of our internal Insights team Clara Lee, Senior Insights Manager, Diageo Australia
The behavioural science work conducted by The Behavioural Architects Sydney team has uncovered insights that we would never have uncovered by asking consumers questions directly Alla Nock, Marketing Research, Analytics & Capability Manager, Kimberly-Clark Australia
Observing consumer behaviour through a Behavioural Science lens has uncovered key nuggets that we have now used to influence behaviour. Alla Nock, Marketing Research, Analytics & Capability Manager, Kimberly-Clark Australia
The Behavioural Architects Sydney are a valued  business partner of the Water Corporation (Perth), who’s expertise and insights into behaviour change has been instrumental in helping to shape our communications strategy and to deliver an outcome that produces results.    Paul Tuffin, Customer Insights Manager, Customer Strategy & Engagement Water Corporation (Perth, Australia)