Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science in Public Policy
Schimmelpfennig, R. & Muthukrishna, M. (2023). Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science and Public Policy. Behavioural Public Policy. 1.31. https://doi.org/10.1017/bpp.2022.40
31 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2022 Last revised: 3 May 2023
Date Written: March 14, 2022
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
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