More about behavioural science and specific techniques


Behavioural Insights units around the world


Other interesting sources about this subject


Tools & techniques for understanding context & behavioural insights

Human centered design

We often describe the process of using behavioural insights as human-centered design. Human-centered design is a process that starts with the people you’re designing for, generating new solutions tailored to suit their needs. Building empathy with people (i.e. your constituents) is at the heart of human-centered design. The design process proceeds from the exploration and generation of behavioural insights, through idea generation, prototyping, experimentation, and iteration of design ideas. This process is often applied to consumer products, but is also widely used in service design around the world. Numerous organizations have developed guides for various human-centered design contexts:

Divergent and convergent thinking

Divergent and convergent describe two ways of thinking used in behavioural research, analysis, and human-centered design. According to most methods of service design, we approach a problem with a divergent point of view, and approach a solution from a convergent point of view. In other words, “divergent thinking” describes a problem-solving strategy defined by a mindset open to many possible solutions or approaches to answering many questions. It usually happens in a free-flowing, spontaneous manner, where multiple creative ideas are engendered and evaluated. “Convergent thinking” describes a problem-solving strategy involving the bringing together different ideas from different participants or fields to determine a single best solution to a lucidly defined problem. In other words, this is a kind of thinking that concentrates on finding out the single best or frequently, correct solution to a problem or answer to a question. We can think of using divergent thinking as what we use when gathering behavioural insights, trying to understand as much as possible about the problem and its context, and convergent thinking is what we do to analyze and synthesize those insights, pointing us toward what is relevant.


Specific techniques to help you understand & analyze behavioural insights


“Personas are fictional profiles, often developed as a way of representing a particular group based on their shared interests. They represent a “character” with which client and design teams can engage” and help us understand values shared between different types of people in a community. Learn more about personas here:

Empathy Mapping

While the persona aims to build a character that reflects the demographic data and interests of the target constituent, empathy mapping puts the researcher in the shoes of the constituent and builds empathy by imagining how that persona would see, feel, and say about a given product or policy. Learn more about empathy mapping here:

System Mapping

To understand how we can impact a system (e.g. a society or organization), we must understand how components within the system are related. A system map is a visual description of the different actors involved, their mutual links and the flows of materials, energy, information, and money that pass through the system. Learn more about system mapping here:

Stakeholder maps

A stakeholder map is like a system map, but it is a visual representation of the people involved in a particular service. It also represents the relationships between managers, customers, service agents, support staff, etc., and may also be an indication of a particular event that unfolds over time or space. Learn more about stakeholder mapping here:

Customer journey maps

A customer journey map identifies key interactions that the customer has with the organization. It talks about the user’s feelings, motivations and questions for each of these touchpoints. It documents the customer experience through their perspective, helping us best understand how customers are interacting with us now, and helps us identify areas for improvement moving forward.It is a a way to walk in our customer’s shoes and chart his course as he interacts with our organization (channels, departments, touchpoints, products, etc.)