It’s hard to overestimate the changes to policy creation and implementation the Behavioral Insight Team’s work has catalyzed.
“Nudge, nudge, wink wink” read one headline when the UK’s Behavioral Insights Team or ‘Nudge Unit’ announced the results of their first year’s work in 2011. The Monty Python reference, far from the only time it was used, revealed that many viewed the newly established team tasked with bringing behavioral science into public policy as something far less than a serious approach to government. Today, however, nearly 200 randomized control trials later and with their findings permeating virtually all areas of public policy—including job assistance, organ donation, and tax collection—the creation of the BIT and the wedding of behavioral science and public policy might seem like forgone conclusions. But hindsight is twenty-twenty, and it’s hard to overestimate the changes to policy creation and implementation the BIT’s work has catalyzed. No better evidenced than by the fact that since its launch in 2010, the United States, Canada, Australia and many others have established their own behavioral science units using the BIT as a model. We recently spoke with BIT Managing Director Owain Service, who’s been with the team since its start, to better understand the BIT’s path-breaking course over the past five years and find out where they’re headed next.