Department of Political Science


Professor Peter John Inaugural Lecture

26 October 2012

Experimentation, Behaviour Change and Public Policy

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Experimentation, Behaviour Change and Public Policy

Many of the greatest challenges in public policy can only be fully addressed by changing the behavior of citizens. Climate change, poor economic growth, obesity and crime are just some of the problems that need action on the part of the public as well as from governments. But governments do not know enough about how to influence behavior; in particular, the need to find out the most appropriate ways to engage citizens so they consent to—and participate in—decisions that are made about them. Greater use of experiments—randomized controlled trials (RCTs)—is one way to increase policy relevant knowledge on behavior change. Peter John will give examples of experiments he has undertaken, which illustrate how academics can lead the way in the creation of relevant knowledge. He will acknowledge both the strengths and weaknesses of the experimental method, and set out how governments and academics can design and use RCTs in better ways.

Lecture venue

Wilkins Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
Gower St
WC1E London
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 18:30


Peter John has been at UCL since 2011, following seven years at the University of Manchester. He is interested in the theory and practice of public policy, and is author of Analyzing Public Policy (2nd edition, 2012) and Making Policy Work (2011). He is passionate about how improve public services so they better connect to and fully involve the citizen, and to that end he directed a project called Rediscovering the Civic: Achieving Better Outcomes in Public Policy, which used experiments reported in Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think (2011). He is currently working on experiments about how to encourage volunteering.

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