Building the Behavior Change Toolkit: Designing and Testing a Nudge and a Boost

Changing behavior is challenging, so behavioral scientists and designers better have a large toolkit. Nudges—subtle changes to the choice environment that don’t remove options or offer a financial incentive—are perhaps the most widely used tool. But they’re not the only tool.

More recently, researchers have advocated a different type of behavioral intervention: boosting. In contrast to nudges, which aim to change behavior through changing the environment, boosts aim to empower individuals to better exert their own agency.

Source: Building the Behavior Change Toolkit: Designing and Testing a Nudge and a Boost

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    Misunderstanding Vaccine Side Effects Poses a Problem for Uptake

    When deciding whether to get vaccines in general, Americans are highly concerned about side effects. Indeed, this concern is one of the most common reasons people report for delaying or refusing vaccination. Even minor side effects, such as swelling and pain at injection sites, often deter people from vaccination.

    This is especially true of parents, who are loath to inflict pain on their children. For the COVID-19 vaccine in particular, fear of side effects is, according to a poll in September 2020, the most common reported reason for potential refusal.

    This article points out that looking at this issue from the lens of behavioral science will aid in understanding how to tackle the problem.

    Source: Misunderstanding Vaccine Side Effects Poses a Problem for Uptake

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      Four Things I Learned About Behavior Change During a Pandemic

      This article is based on an interview with behavioral scientist Katy Milkman and social neuroscientist Jay Van Bavel, hosted by the journal Behavioral Scientist.

      The two shared their insights on a range of topics—vaccine uptake, how political identity and polarization have impacted public health, their behavior-change bright spots from an otherwise challenging year, and more.

      The author lists four lessons learned from this interview:

      1. Why understanding the root causes of political identity and polarization are key for public health
      2. The power of megastudies to help us understand how to boost vaccine uptake
      3. Are people more likely to change their behavior if they have personal experience with COVID-19? It’s complicated.
      4. Despite challenges, science (and scientists) shone brightly this year

      Source: Four Things I Learned About Behavior Change During a Pandemic

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