The mission of the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative is to bring leaders from government and academia together to discuss how the social and behavioral sciences can be deployed to create more effective policies and programs in Philadelphia. The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, the UK’s Behavioral Insights Team, and ideas42, among others, have demonstrated the social and economic value of an evidence-based and people-focused approach to policy-making. We believe this value can be realized to an even greater degree at the local level, here in our city.

Message from James F. Kenney

Mayor of the City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a city that aims to foster an environment where innovative policies and programming can flourish and positively affect people who live, work, and visit. We are constantly looking at efficient and effective ways in which we can better serve our communities, visitors, and businesses. The application of behavioral science methods has allowed the City to address resident needs in equitable, creative ways. 

Through our partnership with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Temple University, Princeton University, and other local colleges and universities, the City has been fortunate enough to explore cross-departmental efforts to determine what actually encourages certain behaviors to improve outcomes. While there is no easy fix for any of the challenges that we face as a municipality, behavioral science gives us the tools to be innovative in how we approach them. 

As the Mayor of a new Administration, it is rewarding to be able to continue the pattern of innovation that previous administrations have passed down and affect positive change in how our City government serves constituents. By taking steps to better analyze our engagement with the residents we serve and improve upon our approach to challenges, we’re creating effective data-informed outcomes. I am confident that the projects designed through the behavioral science initiative will rewrite the playbook on innovation in government.

This website allows the City of Philadelphia and our academic partners to share the full scope of our behavioral science partnership. We owe it to our citizens to create the most cutting edge solutions to our challenges and behavioral science gives us the tools to do so. I am proud of the work of this administration and the many partners who have made this possible.