Our MISSION is to provide scientific knowledge about human behavior in order to design better public policies and improve people’s quality of life.
To improve the results of public policies, we need a proper understanding of the actual behavior of the people to whom they are addressed. Neurosciences and Behavioral Sciences can collaborate in the design of effective policies and interventions to solve problems related to health, education, poverty, justice, citizen behavior, care for the environment, savings and other relevant areas of society.
Traditional public policies are based on the assumption that people are rational actors who process all available information, carefully assess costs and benefits, and select the best option based on a thorough analysis.
In contrast, scientific theories of real human behavior show that our decisions are often automatic, biased and strongly influenced by the context in which they occur.
For public policies to function properly and be adopted in practice by people, they must reflect and be adapted to the actual patterns of human behavior.
The lesson to be drawn from behavioral insights (which can be translated as “behavioral findings or lessons”) is that if options are displayed in an easy and accessible way, in an attractive format, at the right time and in a social context, then people are more likely to choose the most advantageous alternatives. To achieve this goal, nudges are used (or “little pushes”) that are simple and efficient interventions on the processes that lead to the decision to facilitate or promote the choice of advantageous options for people. Nudges seek to overcome the obstacles that prevent people from making their best decisions.
Some nudges that have been used and have shown their effectiveness are:
- Make formalities and procedures simpler and more accessible (simplification)
- Highlight the most important information (salience)
- Make desirable results occur by default (default options)
- Use reminders and alerts (reminders)
- Show what other people do (social rules)
- Explicit intentions, plan actions and formalize commitments with other people.
Evidence shows that the knowledge of behavioral sciences is contributing to the restructuring of public policies in the world.
From the experience of the pioneering Behavioural Insights Team in the British government, different EU countries have established teams of behavioral science experts to inform their public policies. In September 2015 President Obama explicitly called on all US agencies to incorporate behavioral and neuroscience knowledge into their policy development.
More than 150 governments around the world have implemented such procedures. The World Bank and the OECD have published reports that emphasize the importance of identifying and addressing the behavioral component in public policies. Together with the IDB, we are working at INECO Foundation to apply the findings of behavioral sciences in Latin America.
Neurosciences offer great potential for designing new, more complex and comprehensive interventions with profound implications at different stages of life.
By understanding the mechanisms involved in the interaction among the environment, the brain and human behavior, neurosciences can contribute to the understanding of the cognitive, affective, and social processes that guide our behaviors and decisions in society.
Topics such as healthy aging, creativity and innovation, learning, empathy and cooperation, interaction with new technologies and their effects on cognition and behavior, among many other socially relevant topics, depend on the knowledge we have of the brain.
Neurosciences can provide key elements for understanding the complex cognitive processes that support the production and transfer of knowledge.
We understand that knowing about how we learn is a fundamental task to increase the capacity of our society to educate more and better, develop science and technology, implement more effective public policies and change behaviors to prevent diseases, increase social cooperation, reduce conflict and promote human welfare.
The INPP is made up of a group of experts from different disciplines with a common interest in human behavior and its applications.
The Institute is the result of an effort by INECO Foundation to bring together specialists in applied research in neurosciences, psychology, behavioral economics, social sciences and other areas of knowledge relevant to the design of public policies.
The INPP benefits from the network of researchers that INECO Foundation has been building since its creation and also has important connections with non-governmental institutions, international organizations, the public sector, and clients interested in applied research in behavioral sciences.
Dr. Sergio Berensztein
Dr. Agustín Ibáñez
Dr. Gastón Manes
Dr. Fernando Torrente
Dr. José María Ghio