Blog

Thoughts and insights from our work applying behavioral science to social problems

Combating Misinformation in a Critical Period for the United States Election

by ideas42

It’s November 4th, Day 2 of election returns in the United States 2020 election, and as was expected and planned for, the outcome is not yet decided. All the votes are usually not counted election night, but in the past, reasonable projections could be made the night of. This year, due to safety concerns amid […]

Helping Community Food Advocates Spread the Word about Pandemic-EBT Food Benefits to NYC Families

by Toni-Anne Richards and Laura Wolff

At ideas42, we’ve thought a lot about how to maximize the impacts of public benefits in the lives of everyday people, especially during a pandemic. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we’ve assisted government and non-profit agencies in making their communications about the changes to these benefits more effective. We also generated guidelines for states and […]

Spreading Fear: Public Charge Rule Announcement Reduced Enrollment In Child Safety-Net Programs

by Jeremy Barofsky, Ariadna Vargas, Dinardo Rodriguez, and Anthony Barrows

On February 24, 2020, the Trump administration’s expanded “public charge” rule took effect.  Afterward, the Department of Homeland Security could reject an immigrant’s application for permanent residence for using safety net programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps). The rule’s adoption was the culmination of a years-long […]

Boosting Student Voter Participation During a Pandemic

by Jazondré Gibbs, Tom Tasche, and Cassie Taylor

Nearly twice as many students voted in the 2018 midterm election as in 2014, raising turnout among student voters to a high-water mark. As recently as last fall, analysts confidently forecasted similarly record-breaking levels of participation in the 2020 presidential election. Fast forward 12 months and, needless to say, things have changed. The pandemic is […]

Brain, Meet Modern Journalism

by Elizabeth Weingarten and Omar Parbhoo

A lesson one of us (Elizabeth) learned in journalism school: The best first sentences, also known as the lead, are vacuums. Great journalists use them to demand a slice of readers’ limited cognitive bandwidth and suck them into a story. If the story is well-written and interesting enough, your audience will read and understand it, lectured […]

How to Prevent the Minor Errors that Disqualify Mail-In Ballots

by Maya Alper

At first glance, mail-in ballot numbers seem to presage a coming disaster: during the primaries more than 550,000 mail ballots were rejected, many disqualified for seemingly small errors, like envelopes sealed with tape. But these numbers don’t signal an inevitable November Nightmare. In fact, the science of human behavior can help explain both why these […]

Empowering Girls as Agents of Change in Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy

by Arielle Gorstein & Emily Zimmerman

An unplanned pregnancy during adolescence can dramatically impact a girl’s health and economic future, yet use of modern family planning (FP) services among adolescents remains low in many places. The challenge is particularly great in many countries in Africa, where despite a global rise in FP use among adolescents, adolescent fertility remains high and nearly […]

Using Behavioral Insights to Make the Most of Emergency Social Protection Cash Transfers

by Laura Rawlings, World Bank, and Jessica Jean-Francois and Catherine MacLeod, ideas42

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe have been adapting social assistance policies to support their populations. In fact, since March 2020, 139 countries and territories have planned, implemented, or adapted cash transfers to support their citizens. Cash transfers specifically make up about half of the social protection programs implemented to address […]