The Benefits of Removing our Behavioral Science Blinkers

Let me ask you a question. Where does the vast majority of behavioral science expertise and innovation in the world sit? …

….It is in academia.

“But they’re not applied, not in touch with the real world” you say. I shared the same bias until recently, and of course you’re partially right. But as marketers and consumer insights professionals we know that every population can be segmented, and it’s no different for behavioral scientists in academia. And for sure, there’s a segment of behavioral scientists sitting in academia who

  • Have a body of work that is very relevant to industry
  • Are very applied
  • Who have an aptitude and interest in solving business issues
  • Who have real-world marketing acumen and commercial-savvy

They may not always look and sound exactly like us! But their expertise is tremendously powerful and has been under-utilized by our industry for far too long. As the Harvard Social Psychologist, Daniel Gilbert said of the dynamic between academia and industry “We all became finder outers because we wanted to discover truths that will outlast us. But they only outlast us if we give them away to the people who need them most.”

If you are one of the companies or agencies who are effectively using this tremendous source of brainpower, I commend you, but these are the scientists of our profession so shouldn’t we all be doing so? If the #1 goal of consumer insights is to understand human decision-making and the #1 goal of marketing is to impact decision-making, isn’t it time that we embraced the science of decision-making in these disciplines?

If we truly understand how our target customers make decisions better than our competition, wouldn’t that be a true competitive advantage? Partnering with academia provides better tools and techniques to understand how customers make decisions and behave. Let’s harness the science of human decision-making to deliver meaningful commercial impact.

Want to learn more about practical academic/industry behavioral science partnership: contact Elys at

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

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Elys Roberts

Elys Roberts

Elys is the founder of BEESY and a self-described behavioral science "amateur enthusiast." Luckily, he knows what he doesn't know and therefore hangs out with a lot of the experts.

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