Impact CanadaApplying BeSci
Behavioural Science (BeSci) is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of human behaviour and decision-making, combining the findings and methods from psychology, neuroscience, and other social sciences.
In March 2020, Impact Canada launched a program of applied research grounded in Behavioural Science (BeSci) to help support the Government’s response effort in accurately and effectively promoting the behaviours recommended by public health experts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. At that time, the behaviours that public health experts were urging Canadians to practice included staying home when sick and frequent hand washing. Now, over one year later, increasing uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and combating the rampant spread of misinformation are newer aspects of the continued response effort with deep - and increasingly complex - behavioural roots.
Throughout the evolving behavioural context of the pandemic, the objective of our research has remained the same: to integrate evidence-based, behaviourally-informed insights and recommendations to public communication materials, policy and programmatic considerations, and whole-of-government decision-making.
How are we doing this? A dynamic research architecture and growing team of applied experts are rigorously generating data and rapidly translating and disseminating insights to the policy response context. The architecture is built upon a suite of online and in-field data collection tools - including a comprehensive longitudinal tracking study that monitors public knowledge, risk perceptions, and behaviours in tandem with the progression of the pandemic. The team is deploying an array of research methodologies and analytical techniques, spanning from randomized controlled trials and growth curve modelling to semi-structured interviews and grounded theory analysis. Taken together, the tools and the team have amassed a deep and rich data set capturing how Canadians are experiencing the pandemic, including the factors the underscore - and interventions that can help drive - outcomes like compliance to protective behaviours and intentions to vaccinate against COVID-19.
This research and its application have been carried out in lockstep with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and a vast network of additional partnerships that have contributed invaluable technical support and subject-matter expertise. Now we want to share our findings with you!
The following timeline provides an overview of the activities that have been carried out to date. Our BeSci, Policy, and Public Engagement teams continue to provide advisory support on priority COVID-19 policies, interventions, and communication campaigns to help maximize the accuracy and effectiveness of the federal pandemic response. Additional insights and full reports will be included as they become available.