Understanding human behaviour is crucial in dealing with vast challenges, such as the spread of misinformation, digital safeguarding and climate change.

That's why we have launched our new Centre for Behavioural Science.

Why does behavioural science matter?

Behavioural science - the interdisciplinary study of behaviour through systematic experimentation and observation - can help us design better policies, products and services, and improve outcomes in a range of domains.

In health, it sheds light on things like vaccine hesitancy, non-adherence to treatment regimens, and unhealthy lifestyle choices, and in business, it helps companies understand consumer behaviour and tailor their products and services.

It plays a pivotal role in tackling global challenges, like climate change, too, because understanding people’s choices about energy consumption, recycling, and sustainable practices gives us the tools to design policies that encourage environmentally friendly choices.

The increased realisation of the importance of behavioural science has led to corporations employing behavioural scientists and to the establishment of behavioural insights teams at all levels of government.

Essex's behavioural science strengths

Essex has an exceptionally strong background and reputation in social sciences central to this interdisciplinary field, with our research in economics, sociology, and government all ranked in the UK top 10 for research power by Times Higher Education.

Add to that the world-class behavioural science done more widely at Essex, particularly in science and health and in law, and it’s clear we have an impressive critical mass of researchers.

On top of our human capital, we have world-class physical infrastructure. Our behavioural science laboratory opened in 2013 and provides researchers with a purpose-built, and controlled environment to study human judgment, decision-making, emotion, cognition, and behaviour.

Furthermore, Essex is home to internationally renowned research institutes. The Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Institute for Analytics and Data Science provide unique data and tools for increasing our understanding of human behaviour, while our Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing and Human Rights Centre rely on behavioural insights to maximise their impact. All are working with national governments and international organisations to improve policy and deliver insights.

What we want to achieve

Our new Centre for Behavioural Science is part of an ambitious strategy to increase our capacity to support research of the highest quality across all departments. It enables researchers across the University to tackle global challenges using robust experimental evidence and offers fresh opportunities to external partners who can benefit from our world-leading expertise.