BRU Methods

How we work?

The application of behavioural science to address policy problems has expanded greatly in recent years. We undertook a review on this for the OECD.

In part, this expansion is happening because behavioural science offers ideas for how policy can change behaviour and help people to make better decisions. But it also reflects the benefit of using experiments.

Most of our work involves experiments. These may be undertaken on computers, in the lab or online. For some policy problems, we conduct field experiments, in which we test whether an intervention will work using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) or similar method. 

Some of the BRU’s experiments are diagnostic. We measure the quality of decision making and investigate when and why people struggle to make good decisions. Examples include work on pensions (paper), mortgages (paper) and with complex products in general (paper).

Increasingly, our work involves experimental pre-tests of policy interventions. Examples include the formatting of calorie posting on menus (paper), diagrams on pension benefit statements (paper) and price disclosures in electricity (paper).