Why Applying Behavioral Science to Public Policy Delivers Better Policy | David Yokum PhD

Connecting evidence-based behavioral science with public policy has been shown to deliver more effective government policies that strengthen communities. And there’s no-one better to explain this rigorous process than David Yokum PhD, who cut his teeth in behavioral science in the first White House Social & Behavioral Science team. David then went on to work as the Director of The Lab @ DC where he applied behavioral science to city issues. He now works as the Director and founder of The Policy Lab at Brown University, as well as hosting his own podcast, 30,000 Leagues.

Public policy....is just baked with behavioral science implications. Share on X

We were lucky enough to talk to David about the changing role of behavioral science inside government, some of the experiments that he has run, and how working proactively in gaining agreement upfront on an experiment’s design with the community and policy makers can help cross political divides and actually change mindsets.

The mission of The Policy Lab at Brown University where David now works is:

to work in concert with government leaders and experts to develop evidence-based policy programs that improve lives and strengthen communities

Which, I think you’ll agree is one of the coolest missions anywhere.


(2:31) Welcome and speed round questions.

(4:18) The benefits of disconnecting from screens for a short time.

(12:16) How applying behavioral science to public policy delivers better policy.

(15:07) How has behavioral science application in public policy changed?

(19:27) Behavioral science experiments can be run on hot button issues, like police body cams.

(26:51) The political advantages of using randomized control trials.

(31:39) Will experiment results be accepted across the political divide?

(38:18) The barriers faced when turning experiment results into policy change.

(42:56) Examples of successful partnerships between the civil service and the research communities.

(49:14) About David’s podcast; 30,000 Leagues.

(51:58) How David’s playlists are curated.

(56:32) Grooving Session with Tim and Kurt discussing what we’ve learnt from David.

© 2022 Behavioral Grooves

Other Episodes To Listen To

Episode 36, David Yokum: Science is Hard

Episode 273, How Collaboration is Growing Behavioral Science: Learnings from BX Arabia



AIRDATE: March 13, 2022 EPISODE 282

This episode also available via:

Why Applying Behavioral Science to Public Policy Delivers Better Policy | David Yokum PhD

Featured Guest

David Yokum PhD