Healthy living, financial wellness, and gender equality: RSA Social Brain’s spring update - RSA

Healthy living, financial wellness, and gender equality: RSA Social Brain’s spring update


  • Behaviour change
  • Social brain

All winter long, we’ve been busy with events and new programmes of work here in the RSA’s Social Brain. So what does the Spring have in store?

What we’re up to…

  • The RSA is delighted to have been selected as one of three national partners, alongside nef and Nesta, to undertake a programme of work with the NHS: Health as a Social Movement. The concept of health as a social movement is one at the heart of the NHS’ new approach to health beyond the traditional boundaries of the healthcare sector. Working with the other partners, the RSA’s Social Brain and Public Services and Communities teams will explore the trends and tensions in creating social movements in health policy and practice, and support vanguards across the country to spread their own best practice in this area. Keep an eye out for a new project page on our website and more updates from us and our partners in the coming weeks and months.
  • This project builds upon a range of work published by the RSA on the topics of health and wellbeing. For example, the Social Brain team published Easier Said than Done: why we struggle with healthy behaviour and what to do about it in December. Easier Said than Done looks at the social-psychological reasons why it can be difficult to actively manage our health well – both on a general level, and also more specifically in relation to four practices of a healthy lifestyle. The paper suggests specific ‘behavioural hurdles’ that tip the balance in the favour of all those things that we want to do over those things that we know we should be doing (getting more exercise, eating better, sleeping enough, checking symptoms with health care practitioners, and nurturing our social connections). And finally, we offer some strategies from behavioural science which can help us to stick to a desired change to our lifestyle.
  • This week sees the start of the RSA’s SDA judging process. The design team has been a hive of activity receiving submissions for the twelve briefs available this year. From a Social Brain perspective, we’re particularly excited to review submissions from the Mind Your Money brief, which is based on work we published last year on the behavioural hurdles to financial capability, and for which I am delighted to be chairing the judging panel. The Mind Your Money brief asks students to “design a way for people to improve their financial capability and manage their money better” keeping in mind the six behavioural hurdles (social-psychological factors that can make it difficult to manage our money well).   

 Where we’ve been…

  • Last month, as part of ING’s Think Forward Initiative, the Think Forward summit was held in Brussels. It was wonderful to attend and bring some of the insights from our work on financial capability (see above) into a wide-ranging discussion with academics and practitioners about the challenges European households face with regard to financial decision making.
  • Building on our earlier work in health, we were invited to present our Easier Said than Done paper as the Keynote speech at Provide’s annual conference on behaviour change and healthy living.

Hope to see you at…

  • Harvard University professor of public policy Iris Bohnet will visit the RSA to discuss gender equality and how we can design organisations to mitigate gender bias in the workplace. This topic bridges several areas of interest for the RSA, bringing together concepts from behavioural science and design to address gender equality issues. Join us at the RSA on April 14th to see the event live, or catch the video on RSA Replay.
  • Susan David, also a Harvard University professor, will discuss emotional agility and how to ‘get unstuck, embrace change, and thrive in work and life’. Certainly one not to miss. Join us on April 7th to learn more.

Say hello…

The spring will be an exciting time for us. As always, we’re keen to hear your thoughts about our work and for you to engage with our research

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