Issue #12: The Future’s Looking Less WEIRD*
*WEIRD describes a social science research bias of overgeneralizing findings gathered from research that over-samples subjects who are from Western countries, are Educated and live in Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies.
How are you?
Are you someplace where that question can be posed in your friend’s ear over drinks at the local pub? Or someplace where vaccination cards are being bought and sold on the internet alongside weapons and wildlife? Are you someplace where that question stings like a thousand jabs to the arm? Or someplace where having enough doses for everyone would be nothing short of a miracle?
Wherever you are, we’re rooting for the health and safety of you and your loved ones. To call this moment uncertain would certainly be an understatement. Headlines with unthinkable case counts and even more unfathomable cremation sites were ubiquitous in April and May, as the Delta variant engulfed India’s health system and its people. The world has no doubt been a weird place for the last 18 months, but the field of behavioural science has been WEIRDer for longer. As Indonesia claims the horrific title of latest COVID epicentre, we’re growing increasingly impatient with behavioral science to wake up and smell its own bias.
So in this issue of the Stitch, we’re talking to Dr. Hansika Kapoor and Anirudh Tagat about their experiences as behavioural researchers in India, contributing to a field that’s been WEIRD from inception. As scientists at Mumbai-based research institution Monk Prayogshala, they’ve been hard at work throughout the pandemic, challenging Western findings and offering alternative behavioural interventions rooted in context. Hansika, Anirudh and an increasing number of practitioners like them are seizing this moment to pave a future for BS that’s accessible, collaborative, and a lot less WEIRD.
“The development of the vaccine for COVID-19 … has had spillover effects on the development of other vaccines … and I think in many ways behavioural science has really witnessed the same, pardon my language, kick in the ass.”
- Anirudh Tagat, Monk Prayogshala
Repeat after us: Behavioural insights in the Global South should be led by people in the Global South. No need to write that down, we already did. We’ve been hard at work for the past year with Busara and our friends at GAVI to bring you a comprehensive guidebook, outlining all the necessary steps and considerations to take when building a BI unit for public health in the Global South. If you’re curious, you can read the case study or just download the paper and dive straight in. Keep this message echoing through your circles by sharing our paper and advocating for leadership, funding, and research in the Global South wherever you can.
Here’s to more eye-opening and necessary conversations and many more fully-vaccinated how-are-you’s, no matter where you are in the world.
- Mike and Sherine