2023, September 19 (2-5PM)

Behaviour & Institutions Kickstarter Event
Hosted by Denise de Ridder and Lars Tummers
Academiegebouw Belle van Zuylen Hall, Utrecht

Are you looking for an opportunity to showcase your innovative research ideas and receive valuable feedback for funding? Look no further than the upcoming Behaviour & Institutions Kickstarter Event! Join us on September 19th to engage in a stimulating discussion on the role of behaviour in policy contexts. We will also present a Think Paper on the future of the Behaviour & Institutions platform. In addition, the event offers a chance to pitch your ideas for grant proposals individually or in a group, and receive tips on securing funding. Don't miss this opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and elevate your research to the next level. To participate, register through the provided link and submit a 100-word abstract of your pitch by September 1st (at The final program will be announced early September.

2023, June 27

Peter john, Professor of Public Policy at King’s College London, gave a keynote lecture at the Behaviour & Institutions Workshop ‘How to attract, communicate, and manage relationships with partners to conduct field experiments’, hosted by Lars Tummers. Peter John ( is known for his work on agenda-setting and local politics. He has a keen interest in how best to involve citizens in public policy by deploying behavioural interventions.

2023, June 6

Lecture by Wändi Bruine de Bruin (University of Southern California): Insights from psychology for science communication: Examples from the context of climate change

Climate scientists have long been warning that climate change will bring more frequent severe weather events around the world. International organizations such as the IPCC, United Nations Foundation and others face the challenge of communicating about climate scientists' projections with policy makers, practitioners and members of the general public who don't have a background in climate science. I will discuss insights for climate change communications from my research program on public perceptions of climate change, weather, and energy use, focusing on my most recent studies. The insights I will discuss also apply to science communication about other complex topics.

2023, May 26

Expert Meeting Models and Measures for Autonomous Agency (coordinated by Henk Aarts)

This expert meeting brings together different research angles on how to model and measure autonomy during an one day event held in Utrecht. The meeting will include researchers from different branches in science, such as psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, political science, computer science, artificial intelligence and engineering. We plan to host a set of speakers with an eye on bridging gaps between different methodologies in modelling and measuring autonomy in humans and machines and at micro and macro level.

2023, May 16

Lecture by Achim Goerres, Professor of Empirical Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen:Living in Novaland: is it possible to simulate the experience of states, economies and public policies in a virtual online state?

Achim Goerres—Professor of Empirical Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen and PI of the ERC Consolidator project POLITSOLID—will present evidence from a pilot study of Novaland—a virtual liberal democracy with characteristics drawn from German and Romanian welfare states. The pilot’s online platform is based on text and images, with >300 volunteer participants being surveyed after they have exited the experience. The volunteers were randomly assigned to different experiences, such as defined by income, corruption, or unemployment, interacted with each other simultaneously, thereby co-creating collective decisions, such as elections or donation pools, which then determine the course of Novaland.

2023, March 6

Talk on ‘Shared Intentions, Organized Institutions’, held by Michael Bratman, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.

‘Our human agency involves, inter alia, three fundamental forms of practical organization. There is, first, the diachronic organization of an individual’s temporally extended activity. Think about growing food in one’s garden. There is, second, small-scale social organization when people act together in shared intentional / shared cooperative ways. Think about a string quartet. And there are, third, organized institutions such as a neighborhood association, a professional association or a business or non-profit organization. A theory of human action should provide resources that help us understand these multiple forms of human practical organization and their systematic inter-relations.’

Bratman, M. E. (2021). Shared Intention, Organized Institutions. In D. Shoemaker (Ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility Volume 7 (p. 54). Oxford.

2023, February 14

Talk at the Sustainable Behaviour Network of the Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University by Denise de Ridder
Joint Action: Beyond Individual Behaviour Change in the Sustainability Transition

Feeling that one’s behaviour doesn’t matter is one of the ‘dragons of inaction’ (Gifford, 2011) that prevents people from engaging in sustainable behaviour. This problem cannot be solved by focusing on individual decision-making processes as most psychological research does. ’Turning on the we mode’ may be a promising alternative for these individual approaches. In my talk, I will explore how the concept of joint action may inspire a new way of thinking about the facilitation of behaviour change required for the sustainability transition.

2022, November 10

B&I Symposium ‘Beyond the Climate Imperative:Governing the sustainability transition by promoting joint action’

Effective and legitimate governance of societal transitions requires arrangements that facilitate ecosystems of citizens, community initiatives, service organizations, social enterprises and companies in contributing to these transitions. Appreciating the dynamics of these ecosystems calls for insight into human processes of coordination and cooperation that allow people to make autonomous choices and, at the same time, care for each other in fostering engagement with these transitions.

Building on this approach of contextually embedded governance, the symposium addresses the critical issue of how we can create conditions that provide citizens and civil society organizations with opportunities to shape, design, and implement innovative solutions to the pressing case of the transition towards an inclusive and sustainable society.
The symposium will involve an international multidisciplinary group of scholars, policy makers, and stakeholders to discuss this new perspective on citizen engagement with sustainability and a particular focus on coordination and cooperation in accelerating the energy transition with contributions from five renowned speakers. The symposium will be chaired by prof. Denise de Ridder and prof. Lars Tummers.

2022, March 2

A better environment starts with yourself – right?
Behaviour and Institutions Symposium

The slogan of the 1988 Dutch campaign for climate change awareness Een beter milieu begint bij jezelf – a better environment starts with yourself, still sounded hopeful in the 1990s. Nowadays, there is increasing doubt about the usefulness of individual behavioural change as part of the sustainability transition. Because it would distract from the real change we need—structural, systemic change that starts with politics and business. Is that doubt justified? Is the behaviour of individual citizens meaningless? Or are we capable of making a difference in the right circumstances?

In the symposium ‘Een beter milieu begint bij jezelf – toch?’ we are bringing together various perspectives on sustainable behavioural change of individuals. Under the chairmanship of Maarten Prak, eight speakers from science, policy and the public discourse will address the question of whether and how sustainable behavioural change of individuals matters in a series of spoken columns. In some columns scientific evidence will be presented, other columns will be more explorative, provocative or opinion-forming. The speakers will then debate with each other and the audience.

The symposium is organized by Denise de Ridder and Sander Thomaes of the Behaviour & Institutions network and the Faculty of Social Sciences of Utrecht University.

2022, January 27

B&I Symposium ‘How do we involve citizens with important policy issues?

After almost two years of silence due to the pandemic, Behaviour & Institutions is organizing a new activity with a symposium on how we can actively involve citizens with important policy issues – more relevant than ever, as this COVID-19 crisis has shown us.
After a lecture about the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic about motivating citizens to comply with mitigation measures, we will present seven short pitches with innovative and creative examples to connect citizens with the public good – varying from changes associated with sustainability to social behaviour.

2019, November 21

Sander van der Linden, Cambridge University
Better Together: On the Power of Social Nudges

In this talk I will make the case for a singular but important observation: nudge theory often fundamentally neglects the social dimension of the problem it is trying to address. This is surprising as many of the most successful nudges have in fact been social in nature. What makes social nudges successful is their comparative advantage: they make friends along the way, can transform an individual into a crowd and ultimately have the potential to change societal norms. The future of behavioural insights will depend on its ability to address many of the world’s biggest social challenges, from extremism and fake news to public health and climate change. Yet doing so will necessitate the design of more social nudges. I will present a preliminary framework and several examples of snudge: the socially minded nudge.

Sander van der Linden is University Lecturer in Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. His research interests include social influence, attitudes, persuasion, human judgment and decision-making and the psychology of risk and social communication. In 2017, Sander van der Linden was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. In 2019, he received the Sage Early Career Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Sander van der Linden’s talk will be followed by reflections from four disciplinary perspectives, including sociology (professor Vincent Buskens), philosophy (dr. Joel Anderson), political science (professor Barbara Vis), and psychology (dr. Marieke Adriaanse). The session will close with a panel discussion with all speakers and contributions from dr. Will Tiemeijer (The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy) and dr. Thomas Dirkmaat (Behavioural Insights Network NL) on the issues associated with the employment of prosocial nudges in the wider context of public policy making.