Marketing Glossary

Behavioral Science

The study of social factors, emotions, and the environment that influence and impact our actions if known as behavioral science.

What is Behavioral Science?

When it comes to the study of human behavior and actions, the term “behavioral economics” aka behavioral science comes to mind. Cognitive-neuroscience, economics, psychology, and the behavioral elements of biology are only some of the subjects that it encompasses.

Behavioral science focuses on how people make real-world decisions, such as how they interact with the world around them. Social variables, emotions, and surroundings all have a role in how we make decisions, and behavioral science focuses on this. The study of how we make “irrational” judgments is a primary focus of behavioral science.

Behavioral science significantly relies on social scientific procedures, such as randomized control trials, which allow us to make causal inferences about the systems that govern human behavior. Researchers in the field of behavioral science conduct studies to better understand human behavior, not just what individuals do.


Better Decision-Making Influenced by Behavioral Science

People can and frequently do make “irrational” decisions, but there is a technique and method to the madness of decision making when it comes to human action. We may harness the “predictable” patterns in our irrationality to develop surroundings that enable people to make informed decisions by understanding these patterns of human behavior.

Applied behavioral science can have a positive impact on decision-making, whether it is in the field of public policy, product design, or personal habit development. Often, decision-making occurs on autopilot. When behavioral scientists examine human behavior, they discover that us humans make 95 percent of our decisions using mental shortcuts or rules of thumb.

When you build a situation in which a human must make a choice, whether it’s a marketing landing page or buying food from the school cafeteria, you’re implementing what behavioral scientists refer to as “choice architecture.” Regardless of how you construct your chosen architecture, you will have an effect on people’s decision-making, whether unintentionally or consciously.


Using Choice Architecture to Influence Decisions

Behavioral science provides two critical tools for optimizing your choice architecture and affecting decision-making: nudges and experiments.

Nudges

Tried-and-tested strategies developed by behavioral scientists that shape the choice architecture to assist people in making the best choices. (With the publishing of the book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, this notion of behavioral economics was exposed to a wider audience.)

Experiments

Experiments in a controlled manner for behavioral scientists to develop baselines, separate variables that influence human behavior, and demonstrate that your hypothesis for altering the decision architecture is effective.

Utilizing behavioral science to improve the predictability of decision-making

If you can grasp WHY and HOW people make decisions (i.e., what some of these “rules of thumb” for decision making actually are), you can design more effective behavioral science research. Applied behavioral science has a number of advantages over the more traditional “Mad Men” technique of throwing theories at the wall and hoping one sticks.

Applied behavioral science enables you to deploy solutions that are scientifically supported and enables you to understand precisely why your previous idea was successful in influencing decision-making as well as measure the impacts on peoples behavior.


Popular Behavioral Science Experiments

Over 290 studies have been conducted in the field of behavioral science to demonstrate the absurdity of human behavior. The following are a handful of the most significant/replicated behavioral science interventions:

Choice Overload

Choice overload, as defined by behavioral scientists, occurs when consumers are presented with an excessive number of options. In applied behavioural science, possessing too many choices is connected with choice deferral, defaulting to the standard option, decision fatigue, and discontent (Schwartz, 2004). It may even result in avoiding decision-making entirely, such as not purchasing a product (Iyengar & Lepper, 2000).

Loss Aversion

According to behavioral science, loss aversion says that the psychological pain of losing is twice as strong and impactful as the joy of winning. There is evidence that penalty frames are more effective at motivating human activity than reward frames (e.g. Gächter et al., 2009) because of the psychological phenomenon of loss aversion. A good example of this is the website Stickk, which encourages positive behavior change (such as giving up junk food) by the threat of financial loss in the event of noncompliance.

Endowment Effect

This bias happens whenever we evaluate an item we own above its realistic market value (Kahneman et al., 1991). It becomes apparent when individuals become somewhat hesitant to depart with a product they possess for its financial equivalent, or when the price they are prepared to pay for the product is less than the predetermined price to take when selling it.


What Distinguishes Behavioral Science from Social Science?

Both behavioral and social sciences are concerned with human behavior. While the phrases behavioral science and social science are frequently used interchangeably, the two fields are distinct in terms of methodology, scope, and subject matter. Social science is concerned with the social environment.

While social science and behavioral science have some overlap, social science is more broadly concerned with social institutions, processes, and organizations. While social science and behavioral science have some overlap, social science is more broadly concerned with social processes, organizations, and institutions.

Behavior science strives to explain why people behave in certain ways and frequently makes broad generalizations about human behavior in relation to society. Through rigorous research of human behavior, behavioral science investigates mental functions, particularly related to decision making and communication.

Behavioral scientists, in contrast to social scientists, collect empirical data and employ experimental methods including controls, testing, and manipulated environments.