I have previously surveyed the work of the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insight Team – better known through the media description of it as the ‘Nudge’ Unit – in order to examine all the areas of public policy they are contributing to. Details of that previous survey is set out here.
The approach it has adopted continues to spread through government. Recently the Department of Transport (DoT) published a Behavioural Insight Toolkit. It provides a practical guide to those responsible for transport policy and delivery initiatives, including local authorities. It shows how behavioural insights can be applied in the transport context to achieve policy objectives.
Similar to what is happening is other departments, DoT say that ‘Behavioural insights are an important component of the Department’s vision for a transport system that is an engine for economic growth but one that is also greener and safer and improves quality of life in our communities.’ In line with Nudge approaches, DoT say the toolkit does not represent mandatory guidance and its use is purely voluntary.
The toolkit sets out a clear methodology and series of questions to consider when developing behavioural interventions:
Understanding what you are trying to achieve
- Q1. What does the theory say about the factors and influences on behaviour?
- Q2 Which behaviours am I interested in, and why?
Understanding how to achieve your objectives
- Q3. What behavioural insights can I use to achieve policy objectives?
- Q4. Is your organisation best placed to enable behavioural choice, and who else can help?
Getting feedback on whether your initiatives work, reality testing and final review
- Q5. How do I know if my initiative has been successful?
These seem to be broadly in line with social marketing methodology.
The Department says it is currently welcoming feedback from local authorities and others on their experiences of using the toolkit to support the development of transport policy and delivery initiatives.