From Forbes Business, Peter Ubel discusses how the study of behavioral economics could have improved employee satisfaction at Harvard University. If Harvard had better informed its employees about the true cost of healthcare, widespread employee dissatisfaction regarding minimal necessary contributions for healthcare coverage could have been avoided. Using simple behavioral economics techniques, such as framing and other nudges, Ubel predicts that Harvard University could have prevented employees from being as outraged over the changes in healthcare coverage. While behavioral economics is niche field of study, it can be used in a variety of applications to improve program performance without sacrificing individual freedoms for choice.
CBEAR aims to use simple behavioral nudges, similar to some of Ubel’s suggestions, to improve farmer and landowner satisfaction with U.S.D.A. and other agri-environmental governmental programs. These changes would be made in ways that do not restrict the available decisions of farmers and landowners, but would encourage them to make choices that are mutually beneficial to both the U.S.D.A. and users of the programs. In some of CBEAR’s upcoming pilots and randomized controlled trials, the framing of a variety of programs will be tested to identify the best ways to reach the decision-makers, in a way that will achieve program goals and best benefit the decision-makers.