Putting Behavioral Science To Work In The City Of Brotherly Love And Sisterly Affection: The Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Behavioral Public Policy In A Global Context: Practical Lessons From Outside The Nudge Unit


The City of Philadelphia, like many American cities, grapples with challenges that have distinctly “behavioral” components. Starting in 2016, city leadership in the mayor’s office partnered with local academics working in the behavioral sciences to form the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative (PBSI). This chapter tells the story of PBSI, focusing on how it was formed as a true collaboration between academia and government, how it works in practice, and what the future holds for the initiative. Along the way, we focus on projects that have and have not been successful and discuss lessons learned for others hoping to emulate this model of applied behavioral science in large American cities.


Evidence-based policy, Behavioral science, Urban policy, Voter mobilization, Public administration, City government

Published By

Palgrave Macmillan


M. Sanders, Syon Bhanot, and S. O'Flaherty