Empowering People through Behavioral Science

Practical Tools for Purpose

In exploring the human experience of purpose, the NPP project has identified several core themes that are particularly significant, and which provide a useful framework for organizing our activities.  This page displays the content from this website tagged for one of those themes: Practical Tools for Purpose.

With work on Practical Tools for Purpose, we acknowledge that although people routinely strive to achieve their intended goals and aspirations, they are not always as successful as they would like to be, and successful individual strategies for achieving intended goals are not readily translated to broader audiences. Accordingly, we ask: What tools would allow the benefits of purpose to be realized in policy, educational, medical, and organizational settings? What interventions—at the individual level, the group level, or the societal level—can best promote the adoption, pursuit, and achievement of purpose in human life? How can the impact of such interventions be quantified and sustained across time? See below for content related to our emerging insights.

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Oct 31 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

The Power of Nudges, for Good and Bad

(New York Times) Nudges, small design changes that can markedly affect individual behavior, have been catching on. These techniques rely on insights from behavioral science, and when used ethically, they can be very helpful. But we need to be sure that they aren’t being employed to sway people to make bad decisions that they will later regret.

In the News
Oct 15 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Obama’s effort to ‘nudge’ America

(Politico) For the past year, the Obama administration has been running an experiment: Is it possible to make policy more effective by using psychology on citizens?

In the News
Oct 01 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

For Empty Nesters, Spending May Trump Extra Saving

(Wall Street Journal) When children leave home, some parents splurge on travel and home projects. They don’t increase retirement saving much on average, a new study shows.

In the News
Sep 29 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Behaviorists Show the U.S. How to Improve Government Operations

(New York Times) The federal government found a clever way to make a little extra money last summer.

In the News
Sep 25 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Using Science to Make Government Work Better

(Scientific American) On September 15th, President Obama issued an executive order that acknowledges something we have known for a long time: Human beings are not rational creatures who reliably fill out tax documents, enroll in savings programs, or apply for loans, as economic models assume they do. Instead, they systematically and predictably make decisions that run counter to their best interests, as centuries of observations suggest and behavioral science research now empirically confirms.

In the News
Sep 24 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Behavioural economics for better decisions

(ABC) Humans 'misbehave'—we're irrational, indecisive and passionate, yet conventional economics assumes that we will always act logically. Can using a more realistic understanding of human behaviour nudge us to change our way of thinking? 

In the News
Sep 20 2015
Purpose in Goal Pursuit

How to give customers a nudge

(The Globe and Mail) A lawyer, an economist, a marketer, and a behavioural scientist walk into a bar.

In the News
Sep 20 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

This will really make Americans save

(USA Today) Can a doctored webcam photo save your retirement?

In the News
Sep 19 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Want To Get More Students To Go To College? Text Them.

(Huffington Post) There may be a simple way to get more students to show up at college each fall: Text them.

In the News
Sep 18 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Why the U.S. Government Is Embracing Behavioral Science

(Harvard Business Review) For anyone interested in human behavior and decision making, September 15 will likely be a day to remember. On that day, President Obama ordered government agencies to use behavioral science insights to “better serve the American people.” In his executive order, Obama instructed federal agencies to identify policies and operations where applying findings from behavioral science could improve “public welfare, program outcomes, and program cost effectiveness,” design strategies for using behavioral science insights, and recruit behavioral experts whenever considered necessary or helpful. 

In the News

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