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Behavioural lab to uncover vital insights for Tasmania

Research | Newsroom

Tasmania’s first behavioural insights research lab will be launched in Hobart today at the University of Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Behavioural Lab will provide businesses, not-for-profits, and government departments across the state with access to behavioural science consultancy, research and training to improve the lives of Tasmanians.

“The insights and research we provide will allow businesses and policymakers to understand the underlying psychological factors and biases that influence decisions in areas that affect all Tasmanians, such as health, housing and education services provision.

"By understanding why people make the decisions they do, like deciding to smoke or eat highly processed food, we can suggest and test methods to encourage more positive choices through behaviour change policy and programs to create a better, healthier, and more sustainable Tasmania."

“For example, if we wanted to explore ways to attract trainee teachers or doctors to apply for placements in regional Tasmania, we could investigate the behavioural barriers underlying this issue, devise solutions to overcome these barriers, and then test these solutions for evidence of effectiveness before they are rolled out more widely,” Tasmanian Behavioural Lab Director and Professor of Behavioural Economics Swee-Hoon Chuah said.

In another example of how the Tasmanian Behavioural Lab can be used, researchers recently worked with an international app developer to improve student engagement and retention on an educational app.

"Our analysis showed that users were not motivated to continue because the app lacked goals and challenges. We designed and tested a solution where the developer inserted challenging but achievable goals at different levels, which resulted in greater student retention,” Professor Chuah said.

The Executive Dean of the College of Business and Economics, Professor Stuart Crispin, said the research conducted by the Tasmanian Behavioural Lab would meet the State’s growing need for behavioural research to support decision-making on key community issues.

“Behavioural insights are increasingly in demand by those working in policy and strategy, research, teaching and training, and to contribute to public debate.”

For Deloitte Partner and Treasurer at Richmond Fellowship Tasmania Paul Liggins, access to behavioural science research presents an important opportunity for Tasmanian businesses and policymakers.

"There is a growing recognition that standard assumptions in economics about consumers responding in certain ways to prices, incentives and information don’t necessarily hold.

"Greater access to behavioural science research, insights, and teaching will support better decision-making and policy development, particularly in the education and community support sectors."

The Tasmanian Behavioural Lab will also offer teaching and training opportunities for students and professionals to upskill in behavioural research.

Professor Chuah said the Lab is both a research and teaching facility. “We’re excited to start offering courses like our Graduate Certificate in Behavioural Insights from Semester 1 this year,” she said.

The Tasmanian Behavioural Lab is located in the KPMG building at 100 Melville Street Hobart, with an additional facility planned for Launceston in the future.