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Behavioural insights for inclusion and equality

The way we think, feel and act sometimes creates or reinforces exclusions and inequalities. Understanding these behavioural factors is crucial to solving these problems.

Why behavioural insights matter

The ways in which we perceive other people, process information about them and behave toward them have profound consequences on inclusion and inequality. For instance:

  • Some of us hold unconscious stereotypes toward particular groups of people (such as women, immigrants). Such stereotypes can reinforce discrimination.

  • Social mobility – if we think it’s easy to get on in life simply by working hard, we're less likely to support policies to reduce inequality.

  • Bystanders of violence sometimes fail to intervene or call the police because they expect others to do so (a process called the 'dilution of responsibility')

Understanding these behavioural factors can contribute to more effective and efficient policies promoting inclusion and equality.

How can behavioural insights help?

Behavioural insights help us design better inclusion and equality policies – for example:

  • Reducing bias in perceptions of economic inequality, by providing accurate information, can lead people, in some cases, to support more redistributive policies (see this scientific paper). However, for some people, this intervention can have the opposite effect (see this scientific paper).
  • Public action such as information campaigns can help tackle stereotypes and violence against women. These campaigns need to build on a deep-rooted understanding of the behavioural factors contributing to these issues and on actual evidence of their efficacy. EU gender equality programmes encourage national authorities to embed such behavioural approaches in their proposals for funding. This approach is based on the report Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women.

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PUBLICATION | 23 Apr 2021

Growing disparities on multiple socio-economic dimensions have contributed to a sense of unfairness and discontent in Europe. Fairness is a subjective phenomenon, but the far-reaching consequences of perceptions of unfairness warrant a closer...