What is behavioral science?

Behavioral science is the study of how people think, behave, and interact with one another and the world. It integrates ideas and methods from a variety of fields, including economics, psychology, political science, and sociology.

benefits of behavioral science in Philadelphia

The mission of the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative (PBSI) is to help the City harness the best ideas and methods from economics, psychology, political science, and sociology, and other fields, to address the needs of Philadelphia's residents and businesses in creative and effective ways. 

Over the past several years, governments in the U.S. and abroad have demonstrated how behavioral science can help improve people’s lives. As a result of this work, more U.S. citizens are accessing the economic benefits available to them, more students are finding the resources they need to attend college, more families are participating in health care programs, and more people who were looking for work now have jobs.

By taking steps to incorporate behavioral science into the City of Philadelphia’s work, PBSI will help the City improve the delivery of public services, better understand program implementation and evaluation, and strengthen the approach of evidence-based policy-making across municipal departments—all with the goal of saving residents and the City time and money. 

Who we are

PBSI is a partnership between members of the Philadelphia City government and behavioral scientists from Philadelphia-area colleges and universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Temple University, and Princeton University, with the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College providing institutional support. With the launch of PBSI, Philadelphia becomes one of the first major U.S. cities to officially incorporate behavioral science into their work. Please visit our People and Partners pages for more about who we are.


For more about behavioral science and how it’s being applied in governments around the world, please visit our Resources page.