Presidential Address

April 7, 2018
10:30  -  11:30

The interface between social psychology, economics, and policy domains: Impact, challenges, and new frontiers

Many of the issues humans face as a species (chronic disease, climate adaptation, social conflict and cohesion) are problems that require as part of their solution attitude and behaviour change. Consequently, understanding how to change people’s behaviour is a major concern of any Government. In 2011 in the wake of the book “Nudge” by Thaler and Sunstein, the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee released a report entitled “Behaviour Change”. In 2015 an executive order by President Obama stated “research findings from fields such a behavioral economics and psychology … can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people”. In 2016 Prime Minister Turnbull established a behavioural science team in Prime Minister and Cabinet and there is a Behavioural Insights Team In Wellington, NZ. In all these cases there has been an increased focus on psychology as a discipline and what it contributes to understanding human behavior. There has never been a better time for psychology to grow in its impact and significance. It is timely to take stock of these developments and identify the impact, challenges and new frontiers. There is an existing focus on cognitive heuristics/biases and decision-framing (e.g., loss/gain, opt in/out), social norms and more rigorous methods for determining policy effectiveness. The potential contribution of social psychology, though, is much broader (e.g., fairness, ingroup norms, social change dynamics, identity change, leadership and persuasion).  A particular focus of this address will be to outline underexplored areas at the interface between social psychology, economics and policy domains and strategies to better apply key insights.

Session Category :  Keynote