Our Mission: Applying behavioral insights and experimental designs to improve programs related to agriculture and the environment.

The Center for Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research (CBEAR) is a consortium of major land grant and research universities that uses the most modern science to identify how programs can be made more attractive to farmers and landowners, more effective in encouraging the adoption of sound conservation practices and more likely to bring about the environmental improvements that everyone wants. With the University of Delaware, Johns Hopkins University, and Cornell University all putting their top people on these problems, well, there are bound to be some exciting results! The science of behavioral economics uses data, as well as actual experiments with customers, to determine just how those customers (farmers and landowners) make decisions. Scientists then use experiments, both in the lab and in the field, to explore alternative approaches to programs that could improve farmers’ and landowners’ participation and smooth the application processes and the implementation of good conservation practices. CBEAR will bring scientific analysis to bear (excuse the pun!) in the pursuit of USDA’s goal of constant improvement in the delivery of programs. Ultimately, the result can be both more satisfied customers and an improved environment for all of us.

Founded in 2014 with financial support from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, CBEAR engages an active coalition of internationally recognized researchers in behavioral and experimental policy research. CBEAR has four primary inter-related objectives. (1) To develop opportunities for program administrators and economists to identify how applications of behavioral and experimental economics can improve program performance, landowner satisfaction, and agri-environmental outcomes while reducing program costs. To provide evidence of the cost-effectiveness of these applications, CBEAR encourages the use of randomized controlled trials in agri-environmental programs. (2) To conduct behavioral economics research on agri-environmental policy using experimental and behavioral economics techniques, including lab and field experiments. (3) Expand and enhance the research base. (4) Disseminate research in a manner accessible to program administrators and policy makers through direct outreach efforts, publication of digital and online materials, and outreach to media outlets.

CBEAR is funded by the USDA Economic Research Service and is co-headquartered at the University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University.

Interested in reading about what CBEAR does? Check out CBEAR in the news.

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