Behavioural Science

Enabling better choices

Just a decade ago, behavioural science was in its infancy. Today, it is a well-established discipline that many institutions are integrating into policies and programmes.

People do not always behave in predictable ways and human behaviour is often shaped by a variety of factors, including biases and mental shortcuts. If United Nations entities strengthen their behavioural science capabilities, we can increase the impact of our strategies and tailor our initiatives better to contexts.

For Example...

Behavioural science can improve social protection uptake

There are millions of individuals who fail to 
access social protections to which they are entitled. With stronger behavioural science expertise, United Nations entities, for example, can support Member States in simplifying registration procedures, improving outreach, facilitating automatic enrolment, improving the completion of tasks, tailoring processes to local realities and building trust – to achieve shock-responsive and universal social protection.

What building behavioural science capacity means

Nurturing behavioural science capacity is about building our knowledge of how people act, make decisions and react to policies, processes and incentives, in order to create better choices and positive change.

As a multidisciplinary field, it combines methods from psychology, economics, communications, data science, sociology and other fields to craft strategies that work with – not against – the grain of human nature.

Ways in which behavioural science can have impact

António Guterres


“Behavioural science helps us to diagnose how and why people do the things they do, which can be crucial for designing more effective programmes and policies, improving our internal operations, and reducing bureaucracy.”

Key resources

UN Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Behavioural Science

The Guidance Note is an introduction to the practice of behavioural science at the United Nations. It outlines how it can enhance the UN’s mandate delivery, programme implementation and improving its administration.

UN Behavioural Science Group

The UN Behavioural Science Group brings together UN colleagues and observers from governments, academia, civil society and more. The Group hosts knowledge-sharing events and provides practical guidance.

Voices on behavioural science

How UN leadership, colleagues and youth from across the globe are getting inspired by and sparking action around UN 2.0

Discover behavioural science action

UN 2.0 is about leveraging our connections across the globe, with teams and projects active in over 160 countries. Click on the map to learn more.

The location indicators on this map are illustrative and do not necessarily show where entities are based. The depiction and use of boundaries, geographic names and related data shown on maps are not guaranteed to be error free, nor do they imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

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