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Approach

SBST translates findings and methods from the social and behavioral sciences into improvements in Federal policies and programs.

We focus on four aspects of program design where prior research and practice indicate that behavioral insights have an especially strong role to play in program outcomes:

Where We Work

Applying behavioral insights in the right context can lead to substantial improvements in program outcomes. How does SBST identify where to apply behavioral insights?

The most promising opportunities have three features:

Policy Goal: Successful projects require well-defined policy goals with defined outcomes of interest - in part because SBST itself does not set policy.

Individual Behavior: A link between a policy goal and the decisions or actions of individuals is the essence of an SBST project. Where Federal policy outcomes do not depend on behavior, applications of behavioral insights will have little relevance, no matter how worthwhile the goal.

Program Touchpoint: A point of direct interaction between the Federal government and individuals, such as an application process or form, a website that offers program choices, or the structure of incentives (financial and nonfinancial).

So for example, if the policy goal is to help borrowers manage their student debt, the individual behavior might be whether or not to apply for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, and the program touchpoint might be the IDR application. Behavioral insights might suggest ways to most clearly present the IDR options and make the application as simple and intuitive as possible.