Why things going wrong can be a good thing

  • Date:
  • Time: 14:00-1500
  • Location: Online - book below



The aim of this presentation is to discuss work from a recent project examining behavioural interventions that fail. The main theme is to illustrate the value of failure, not only because it focuses more attention on WHY than just HOW and WHAT, but also because, as psychology time and time shows, context matters.

Failures of the kind that will be described help point to future considerations that need to be taken into account when devising interventions to address a variety of social policy issues. By looking at patterns of report failures of behavioral interventions (e.g. what types of interventions are commonly reported as failing and in which contexts) the project was able to develop a taxonomy of failures.

In the main this was possible because of researchers’ careful reporting of the findings, and the type of data that was collected in their studies. I argue that analyses of this kind can be useful for advancing basic and applied science in order to develop better behavioural interventions that address social policy issues, and achieve some meaningful impact.

The Speaker

Dr. Magda Osman is Head of Research at the Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge. She is also head of the Dynamic Learning and Decision-making Laboratory (magdaosmanresearch.com), and a Fellow of the Turing Institute. The ethos of Dr Osman’s work has been to take a critical eye to well accepted views and challenge the status quo.

She has authored over 100 publications, and two books. Her publications span work on psychology, cognitive science, management, philosophy and economics. She is currently in charge of ongoing scholarly projects on assessing evidence-based policy making, decision-making under uncertainty/risk, dynamic social interactions, moral judgment, agency and control, unconscious choice behaviour, and conceptualizing violence. She has made significant contributions in the domain of behavioural change by critically examining the frameworks, and evaluating interventions in many domains (e.g., health, sustainable consumption, energy efficiency, organ donation). She has published over 20 articles in this area.