Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science in Public Policy

40 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2022

See all articles by Robin Schimmelpfennig

Robin Schimmelpfennig

University of Lausanne - Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne); University of Lausanne - Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne)

Michael Muthukrishna

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: March 14, 2022

Abstract

Interventions are to the social sciences what inventions are to the physical sciences—an application of science as technology. Behavioural science has emerged as a powerful toolkit for developing public policy interventions for changing behaviour. However, the translation from principles to practice is often moderated by contextual factors—such as culture—that thwart attempts to generalize past successes. Here we discuss cultural evolution as a framework for addressing this contextual gap. We describe the history of behavioural science and the role that cultural evolution plays as a natural next step. We review research that may be considered cultural evolutionary behavioural science in public policy, and the promise and challenges to designing cultural evolution informed interventions. Finally, we discuss the value of applied research as a crucial test of basic science: if theories, lab, and field experiments don’t work in the real world, they don’t work at all.

Keywords: cultural evolution, behavioural insights, behavioural public policy, endogenous change, behavioural economics, WEIRD, applied cultural evolution, behavioural science

Suggested Citation

Schimmelpfennig, Robin and Muthukrishna, Michael, Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science in Public Policy (March 14, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4057679 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4057679

Robin Schimmelpfennig (Contact Author)

University of Lausanne - Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne) ( email )

Switzerland

University of Lausanne - Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne) ( email )

Switzerland

Michael Muthukrishna

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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