Our first Social Brain report, Changing the Subject, introduced the idea of 'neurological reflexivity' and reflected on the policy implications of the fact that awareness of how our brains function increasingly shapes the way we use them.
Our Steer report confirmed the promise of this approach, with a practical trial, motivated by the belief that if knowledge is power, knowledge about your own nature ought to be particularly empowering.
This report argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains, based on a considered response to two major cultural developments:
This report explores the practical significance of the scientific fact that the two hemispheres in each of our brains have radically different ‘world views’. It features a dialogue between Iain McGilchrist and Dr Jonathan Rowson, and includes reflections from a workshop attended by policymakers, journalists and academics on the strength and significance of the ideas, including critique, clarification and illustrations of relevance in particular domains, including economics, behavioural economics, climate change, NGO campaigning, patent law, ethics, and art.
This project features a rare study of taxi drivers in their working habitats, and presents wider lessons about the challenges of efficient fuel use in the context of rising energy prices and climate change. The recommendations arising from the project as a whole include making habitual behaviour the focus of interventions, making fuel efficiency a pass/fail criterion on the driving test, changing driving habitats to encourage fuel efficiency, incentivising taxi drivers to become ambassadors for fuel efficiency, providing more salient feedback, and making taxis greener.
Reflexive Coppers: Adaptive Challenges in Policing concludes that years of ‘target culture’, combined with strict adherence to protocol, rank structure, and risk aversion encourages ‘group think’ and has a detrimental effect on the relationship between the police and the public.
We introduce a perspective on public participation that is rarely considered by policymakers, namely mental complexity in the adult population - our varied capacity to understand competing motivations and values in ourselves and others, to ‘get things in perspective’, and to act appropriately in uncertain or ambiguous situations.
The report identified a vital link between curiosity and innovation, but found that Britons are less hungry for knowledge than they are for experiences, and lack curiosity about their energy usage.
Further recent work has included advising a major bank on encouraging customers to save more, writing an evidence review on the decision ecology of adult social care, and we are about to begin a major project on social value of developing a secular spirituality.