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Dr. Crystal Hall, The Evans School of Social Policy, University of Washington: The Brian Science of Scarcity

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Dr. Crystal Hall, Associate Professor, presents on the brain science of scarcity at Neighborhood Partnership's 2016 RE:Conference

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Dr. Crystal Hall, The Evans School of Social Policy, University of Washington: The Brian Science of Scarcity

  1. 1. The Brain Science of Scarcity: Applying What We Know Crystal C. Hall Associate Professor Evans School of Public Policy and Governance University of Washington November 16, 2016 | 2016 RE:Conference
  2. 2. Understanding human behavior ● Rational agent model (normative) ○ Well-informed ○ Stable preferences ○ Controlled and calculating ● Behavioral model (descriptive) ○ Mediocre judgment ○ Malleable preferences ○ Impulsive ■ but behavior is often predictable!
  3. 3. A key observation: Individuals are “irrational” but often extremely predictable!
  4. 4. Decision Making in the Context of Poverty ● Two views of behavior ○ Rational agent view ○ “Culture of poverty” view ● An alternative: A behavioral perspective ○ Better predictor of behavior (Bertrand, Mullainathan & Shafir, 2006) ○ Policy implications (Hall, 2012; Hall, Galvez & Sederbaum, 2014)
  5. 5. Scarcity and Decision Making ● General principle of psychological scarcity ○ Time ○ Money ● Behavioral patterns ○ Constant need for trade-offs ○ Short-term planning *Huge policy implications here!
  6. 6. Scarcity and Decision Making ● Nuanced way of viewing the behavior of LI individuals ○ Just as “irrational” as many others (dieters, overstretched professionals….) ● Clearly extends to many decision domains…
  7. 7. Johnson & Goldstein, 2003
  8. 8. Taking Information 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 Affirmation Neutral PercentTaking Taking Information about EITC Hall, Zhao & Shafir, 2014
  9. 9. Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) What is it? The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) is a cross-agency group of experts in applied behavioral science. Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Design/Human Computer Interaction Who is it? SBST is chaired by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and includes representation from a dozen member agencies across the Federal Government, as well as offices within the Executive Office of the President. What does it do? SBST translates findings and methods from the social and behavioral sciences into improvements in Federal policies and programs for the benefit of the American people.
  10. 10. Applying Social & Behavioral Insights 1. Improving access – (e.g. active choices) 1. Promoting good choices – (e.g. default settings) 1. Setting policy parameters – (e.g. incentive structures)
  11. 11. SBST Project Areas (sbst.gov) Promoting Retirement Security Responding to Climate Change Advancing Economic Opportunity Assisting Job Seekers Improving College Access Supporting Criminal Justice Reform Improving Access to Health Care Improving Gov’t Efficiency
  12. 12. What are we trying to achieve? How does behavior play a role in outcomes? How does Gov’t (or any org) interact with people?
  13. 13. Any program or service has a direct connection with a citizen • Focus on a key touchpoint (e.g., form or text message) • Ideally, randomize treatment in order to test (to evaluate impact)
  14. 14. The outcome of interest is reliant upon individual action • Ability to observe (and measure) the behavior of interest (e.g., program uptake)
  15. 15. The objective is already clearly defined • Try to find a rigorous way to measure effectiveness and achievement towards an agency-defined outcome
  16. 16. Thank you! hallcc@uw.edu sbst.gov
  17. 17. Technical supplement to 2014 BIAS report. http://www.acf.hhs.g ov/sites/default/files /opre/bias_2014_rep ort_technical_supple ment.pdf

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