The effect of colour on people's willingness to donate to charity, tall poppy syndrome and guiding greener decision-making: just some of the innovative research at RMIT's Behavioural Business Lab.
Dr Adrian Camilleri, from the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, talks about the exciting projects currently in progress and how you can get involved as a research participant.
Tell us about the Behavioural Business Lab.
RMIT’s Behavioural Business Lab (BBL) was set up last year and comprises of researchers from different business-related disciplines including economics, marketing, and finance.
They all share an interest in understanding economic and business issues in terms of individual choice and strategic decision-making.
Behavioural business research bridges the traditional boundaries between the social sciences by recognising the regularities in human behaviour irrespective of context.
The studies include the economy and business through the lens of decision-making processes, mainly using empirical methods such as experiments that help generate new theories of social behaviour.
The group’s members actively seek national and international engagement with other researchers, businesses, and public organisations to collaborate on research, apply findings, and shape policy.
What values can the BBL bring to business, government or non-profit organisations?
Members of our group are frequently approached by government and industry organisations. For example, I’ve had discussions with various charities, start-ups, consulting firms, and the Victorian Government.
There are three key values that we can bring:
Insights generated by our very powerful primary research tool: experiments. By comparing the results of one group of people who experience, for example, policy A, with the results from a different group of people who experience Policy B, we can produce evidence-based insights.
These insights may relate to new policies, or how to structure incentives, or how to present information, or how to design a new product.
The BBL can educate people on how they can conduct experiments in their own work environment to figure out what works best for them. For example, I have given training seminars to members of the Victorian Behavioural Insights Network and the Australian Market Research Society.
When we are not conducting our own research we are very often reading about the research of others.
Those in government and industry do not have the time or technical background to decipher dense academic papers. We, on the other hand, bring value by distilling the essential points from these literatures to inform best practice.
Finally, we have an on-site lab consisting of 60 workstations, with mobile privacy partitions and blinds. Each workstation has access to a networked phone and computer with state of the art software.
A lab such as ours provides organisations with a valuable opportunity to test their ideas quickly and affordably, before running a larger scale trial.
What are some of current research projects you are working on?
The group has a number of projects they are working on together, in addition to many other projects with external collaborators.
In one project, for example, five of the BBL members are working to understand the effect that colour – including hue, saturation, brightness – has on people’s likelihood to donate to charity.
Another project that three of the BBL members are working on has to do with understanding how superannuation statements can be redesigned to help people make better sense of them.
Others in the group are working on topics as varied as tall poppy syndrome, intergenerational transfer of preferences, post conflict reconciliation, charitable donations, social identity on behaviour, design innovation, and design aesthetics.
I am also working with collaborators from Duke and Columbia Universities on how information – such as the fuel efficiency of a car – can be ‘translated’ into different but equivalent formats in order to encourage more environmentally-friendly decisions.
How can the general public get involved?
Our purpose-built participant pool has over 1000 registrations and we’re looking to boost that number further.
The BBL is housed in the Swanston Academic Building. Those who want to be involved can do so by taking part in our research studies and contributing their opinion to the field of social science.
I encourage readers to register their interest on our database and the BBL team will make contact with invitations. Participants will learn about how social science is conducted and get rewarded financially for the experience!
Learn more about the BBL or sign up as a participant.
Story: Rita Truong