This is my interview for the group 'Behavioural Insights Scotland'. Click here for the original article.
Our ‘Spotlight’ series features members of the Behavioural Insights Scotland network so we can learn about their history with behavioural science, what they’re up to now, and what they think about the future of our field.
We have Silvia Cottone this week. She contributes to the Behavioural Science field from both — the academic and the application side. She is a lecturer of Behavioural Economics at UCAL and works with a consulting agency called BeWay, which applies behavioural science in Spain and Latin America. Let’s hear more from her!
BeSci and you
What made you want to pursue Behavioural Science?
Before Stirling University, I was studying languages and business. During my first year, I had to pass an English exam, and, luckily for me, my lecturer wanted us to read ‘Thinking, fast and slow’ by D. Kahneman. I had a prior interest in consumer’s behaviour and psychology, and after reading the book, I was fascinated about Behavioural Science and I knew that was the career path I wanted to pursue.
What led you to choose the University of Stirling?
When I was looking for a master in Behavioural Science, I found it quite hard to be accepted, as the majority of universities only required specific degrees, such as psychology or economics. I took up some extra courses, until I came across the University of Stirling and saw that they were going to provide me with a strong background in psychology and economics and all I needed to know to start my career in Behavioural Science. And my expectations were greatly met 😃
Tell us one thing in behavioural science you’ve learned about since graduating which really excited you?
After graduating, I started to work in a consulting agency applying Behavioural Science. The first two things I learned were the following: 1) Applying Behavioural Science in the real world was a big challenge and I was eager to face it. 2) There was (and there is) still so much I had to learn and I was really excited about it!
Tell us about the organisation(s) you work with.
I’m working with a consulting agency called BeWay that applies Behavioural Science in Spain and Latin America. We mainly work in the financial sector, but we also develop projects in social, economic, environmental and educational fields. I’m also Lecturer of Behavioural Economics in UCAL University in Lima.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working with a financial organisation to enhance its reputation by improving the clients’ perception on the pro-environmental activities they carry out.
Tell us about a project you’re proud of being involved in where you used behavioural science?
When I was working at Heurística [a BeSci. consultancy working in Latin America], I really enjoyed collaborating with a Peruvian NGO, called Alto Perú, in carrying out a Behavioural Science project during COVID-19. The study aimed at encouraging the hand-washing habit as a preventive measure against the virus transmission by designing messages using the social norms to promote the behaviour.
Scotland & BeSci — in the next 10 years
What role do you think BeSci will play in Scotland going forward?
I believe that the role that Behavioural Science plays in Scotland has grown over the past years and will continue to grow. It’s great to see that several students graduating from Stirling University decided to apply their knowledge in Scotland, either by taking up a PhD, starting their own business in Behavioural Science or bringing it into the new job. As the interest in the discipline is growing, I’m sure we’ll see more Behavioural Science applied in Scottish organisations in the next few years.
“As the interest in the discipline is growing, I’m sure we’ll see more Behavioural Science applied in Scottish organisations in the next few years.”
Where would you like to see behavioural science progressing in the future?
As I mainly work in Latin America, I think there is a need for diversification, both in sample and in context, in Behavioural Science. Already 10 years ago, research showed that results in psychology and behavioural science mainly come from a sub-population, which does not represent all the societies. Moreover, it is important to make measures contextually appropriate to run a sensible test, as the Busara Center points out. I think this is where I would like to see Behavioural Science progressing in the future, and this is already happening.
“Already 10 years ago, research showed that results in psychology and behavioural science mainly come from a sub-population, which does not represent all the societies. Moreover, it is important to make measures contextually appropriate to run a sensible test”
How do you stay up to date with BeSci?
Luckily, I have to read a lot both for my work at BeWay and teaching to my students. This helps me to stay up to date with the latest research and papers. What I think helps me the most is connecting and discussing topics with members of the large community of Behavioural Scientists that has grown on social networks. It brings up different points of view and helps me see more than one way to solve behavioural problems.
Thank you for the interview!