Behaviour in Business and Society
Enhancing the public understanding of Behavioural Science
The Behavioural Science Group at Warwick Business School was founded by Professor Nick Chater in 2010 and is the largest of its kind in Europe. The research group uses experimental methods to study individual behaviour in order to understand people's beliefs, values and choices, and how these shape human relationships, enable the creation of complex organisations, and impact consumer and financial markets.
The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the practical, systematic and transparent use of behavioural science to create better outcomes for people and society. Professor Nick Chater and colleagues at WBS and throughout the University have played a significant role in driving this change, by enhancing public and professional understanding of, and engagement with, behavioural science. Professor Chater’s work has found innovative and engaging ways to communicate the science accessibly, attracting a broad audience.
Professor Chater’s research into the high-level mental processes involved in judgement and decision making has helped transform public understanding of behavioural science through a BBC Radio 4 show, the Human Zoo; a Massive Open Online Course, The Mind is Flat; and a popular book entitled The Mind is Flat.
The Human Zoo ran for eight series from 2013-16, attracting 1.5 million listeners, with many episodes attracting considerable media attention. The series are continuously available on BBC Sounds. A survey revealed that 85% of the show’s audience felt inspired to learn more about how the mind works, and more than 70% of listeners planned to continue their studies as a result of the programme, including formal qualifications in behavioural science.
Linked to the Human Zoo, Professor Chater also created the online Human Zoo Lab to run experiments with public contributors, which was completed by more than 6,000 individuals.
97,000 people enrolled on the online course, The Mind is Flat, which launched in 2013 and has since become the most subscribed MOOC at Warwick, running eight times with over 97,000 learners. Many people reported that the course had radically changed their understanding of how the mind works and its role in determining our actions.
Building on the course, Professor Chater published a book of the same name with Penguin in 2018, which has since been translated into Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese. The US Edition won the 2019 Association of American Publishers PROSE Award for Best Book in Clinical Psychology, which recognises the very best in professional and scholarly publishing.
Professor Chater’s research has informed the work of the Behavioural Insights Team, the Climate Change Committee and Decision Technology - a former Warwick spin-out which has applied scientific insights to address challenges for organisations such as EDF Energy, British Gas and Deliveroo. Through these activities, the research has helped policymakers, executives and members of the public make better decisions about multiple aspects of everyday life, from business and finance to climate change and health.