President’s Executive Order Outlines Crucial Role for Psychology & Allied Sciences

President’s Executive Order Outlines Crucial Role for Psychology and Allied Sciences in Serving Society: Get Involved Today!

Amidst all the glum news about government support for behavioral science research, a hopeful note was sounded in an historic executive order issued by the U. S. President on September 15, 2015. For the first time, a President has directed government to take advantage of behavioral science research to inform policies and practices. Guidelines for implementation of this order are forthcoming.

This move is important: Psychology is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) science, but it often fails to get the respect garnered by the older sciences. Members of the Psychonomic Society conduct research every bit as rigorous as those in traditional sciences. The executive order recognizes that this research can help millions of Americans (and others around the world) live happier, healthier, and more productive lives, not to mention save government millions of dollars.

For over a year, a Social and Behavioral Sciences Team of about a dozen behavioral scientists within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has been working to help federal agencies and departments to use “behavioral science insights” to “design government policies to better serve the American people. Do you or your team want to learn more about how they work with agencies? Are you interested in supporting a project in your area of expertise? Are you interested in joining the team? They need your help; volunteer at

The Executive Order signed by the President makes SBST a permanent part of the federal government and encourages federal agencies to work with the team to:

  • identify programs, policies and operations that could benefit from behavioral science insights and develop strategies for applying them;
  • recruit behavioral scientists into federal service;
  • and strengthen agency relationships with the research community to better use empirical findings from the behavioral sciences.

Cass Sunstein, a professor of Law at Harvard who served in government, summarized the opportunity well in a New York Times Op-Ed piece on September 19th: “Building on impressive new findings from the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, Mr. Obama ordered his government to use behavioral insights to simplify forms, cut wait times, eliminate administrative hurdles and reduce regulatory burdens. A new report from the team, which has been up and running for more than a year, shows that small reforms can make a big difference.”

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