Policymakers and administrators are increasingly using evidence about human behavior to improve the design of social services. People — who often rely on intuition instead of reason, make inconsistent choices over time, and can be overloaded by information — are the clients who receive services, the staff who provide them, and the policymakers who create them. Behavioral science demonstrates that even small hassles can create significant barriers that prevent those in need of services from receiving them.
The Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS) is a new initiative that combines MDRC’s expertise in social programs with insights from behavioral science. Projects that are affiliated with CABS develop innovative, low-cost interventions to improve the effectiveness of social programs and the experiences of the families and individuals receiving these services. Interventions are based on research from behavioral science, including behavioral economics, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and organizational behavior. Problems tackled by the Center address relevant policies in human services programs, educational settings, and employment training programs. Using a diagnostic methodology to identify opportunities most amenable to light-touch, high-impact interventions, CABS designs interventions and tests their impact through experimentation and provides technical assistance to social service agencies implementing such approaches.
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