Leverage insights about human decision making to develop interventions that improve societal well-being.
This is the primary learning goal of MLD-304 The Science of Behavior Change taught by Professor Todd Rogers.
The fast growing research field dubbed “behavioral economics” or “behavioral science” examines the mechanisms of, and influences on, human judgment and decision making, especially in the areas where our choices differ from the rational and the optimal. Insights from this research has provided a new set of tools that complement standard economics and policy levers for influencing behavior (namely, incentives and information) and allowed us to improve implementation of interventions promoting the public good. These new tools and ideas have relevance across fields ranging from healthcare, education, criminal justice, social welfare, electoral politics, personal finance, and beyond.
In addition to learning more about the science of how humans make judgments and decisions, students in MLD-304 will also be taught how to improve the quality of their own judgments and decisions by identifying areas of thinking prone to errors and cognitive biases. Some of these errors are particularly important for real world problems. This course will also increase students’ familiarity with randomized experiments, enabling them to be smarter consumers of claims that interventions cause certain outcomes.
Watch Professor Rogers describe an example from his work on voter mobilization:
Read an extensive piece the HKS alumni magazine about Todd Rogers’ recent work.
Join other students at HKS and across Harvard interested in behavioral science in the Behavioral Insights Group which brings together an outstanding group of decision research scholars, behavioral economists, and other behavioral scientists. BIG’s staff are always happy to talk with students. Please feel free to reach out to Program Manager, Maja Niksic (firstname.lastname@example.org), follow BIG on Twitter, check out BIG’s LinkedIn Network where behavioral science-specific jobs are posted, or access the resources of the Behavioral Insights Student Group.
MLD-304 is offered at Harvard Kennedy School in the Fall semester with 2 sections available. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.