Behavioural Science in Uttar Pradesh and beyond
The Pop-UP Lab is a mobile lab based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (UP) which combines traditional research methods with real-time data collection and analysis techniques
Ashoka University’s Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC) is dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of human behaviour and social systems through rigorous research and innovative approaches. We design, execute, and analyse empirical studies to understand human behaviour, particularly in low-resource settings. This is a critical endeavour because most of our knowledge about human behaviour comes from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) samples.
We conduct cutting-edge research across various social science disciplines, including psychology, sociology, public health, and economics. Our experiments test new hypotheses for behaviour change and measure the impact of a behaviourally-informed policy intervention in the field. For example, we are exploring questions such as: What kind of intervention works best to increase confidence in using digital and financial services? What determines tax evasion behaviour? How can we harness the power of behavioural biases to promote positive social change?
One of our research initiatives is the Pop-UP Lab, a mobile lab based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (UP). This lab combines traditional research methods with real-time data collection and analysis techniques. The goal is to gain insight into how people and groups make decisions in the contexts in which they live.
Our lab studies are designed to be highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, drawing on the expertise of experts from various fields, including sociology, economics, psychology, neuroscience and public policy. Our goal is to create a dynamic and inclusive research community that is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the complex and ever-changing social world.
For example, in collaboration with Professor Sanjit Dhami, University of Leicester, we ran a lab study to investigate if tax evasion depends on income sources. We compared labour income earned in a tedious experimental task to non-labour income, which was randomly given to participants. We showed that loss aversion, which is a tendency to feel more pain from losses than pleasure from gains, moral costs, and risk preferences play a key role in explaining source-dependent tax evasion. Interestingly, for labour income, risk aversion can make people even more cautious about paying taxes if they are loss averse. Tax evasion tends to increase when tax rates are high and decrease when the risk of getting caught and fines are high.
In addition to our lab studies, we are also committed to fostering collaboration between academics, practitioners, and policymakers. We engage in dialogue with experts from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to ensure that our research is grounded in real-world experience and relevant to contemporary societal challenges.
The Centre for Social and Behaviour Change is proud to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research and innovation in the social sciences. We are dedicated to advancing our understanding of human behaviour and social systems and to using that knowledge to impact the world positively. If you are a student, we invite you to join us in our quest to create a better future for all by signing up for our research studies here.
Authors: Dr Narges Hajimoladarvish, Bijoyetri Samaddar