Human behaviour and responsible business - behavioural insights as a catalyst for change

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Affective Advisory on how an empirical approach should be applied to motivate behavioural change, foster organisational learning and ensure that CSR initiatives truly have a positive impact

With the participation in the UN Global Compact, Affective Advisory became the world’s first consultancy specialising in applied behavioural science that explicitly commits to the principles of sustainable business. This commitment originates from their deep conviction that meaningful and responsible entrepreneurship should pursue not only purely economic, but also ecological and social goals. It further reflects their view that the major societal challenges can only be solved in partnerships.

Behavioural science has repeatedly shown that small, subtle, and sometimes counterintuitive changes to the way information is framed, or processes are structured, can have a tremendous impact on the choices we make and the actions we take.

Behaviour never occurs in a vacuum. It is strongly context dependent. For example, in the realm of ethical behaviour and corruption, research has demonstrated that most people cheat a little, when given the opportunity to do so. However, they only do so to the extent that they can ensure the preservation of a positive self-image. For moral considerations to impact choice, the dimension of our decisions need to be clear when we take action. Likewise, studies demonstrate that climate change risk perceptions are greatly influenced by experiential and socio-cultural factors. Eliciting affective responses to actual or past experiences can offer an effective way to nudge stakeholders towards more pro-environmental behaviours. Practical applications in organisations can be as simple as helping employees make more sustainable choices. In an easily reproducible example, a public organisation leveraged insights about people’s tendency to stick with the status quo, in order to reduce its environmental footprint significantly. By simply changing the printer default from ‘single page‘ to ‘front and back‘ they were able to reduce paper consumption by 44%, or an equivalent of 55 million pages, over a three year period. A huge return for a small change.

The above examples, like many more, demonstrate the power of behavioural insights as a catalyst for change. Moreover, they illustrate that an empirical approach should be applied to foster organisational learning and ensure that CSR initiatives truly have a positive impact. As a team of qualified behavioural scientists, they are on a mission to advance public policy and strategy with evidence-based models.

Affective Advisory is a leading behavioural science consultancy, applying academic insights to design human-centered, data-driven and science-backed strategy and policy solutions. Its team supports organisations in tackling some of the most critical social, ecological, economic and organisational challenges of our time, focussing throughout on human judgement and decision-making.

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