A new executive order from President Obama directs all government agencies to use psychological science and data to help connect more Americans to government programs.
The order instructs government agencies to use “behavioral science”— a tactic used by Obama’s political campaigns to harness data from their supporters to target them effectively.
The program has already existed in an experimental form, but now Obama has formally established the federal “Social and Behavioral Sciences Team,” ordering them to to use psychology and experimental behavior data to make government more user-friendly.
An example of these techniques used during Obama’s campaign was that it was better to affirm a positive message rather than denying a negative message.
According to reports, behavioral science was used to advise the campaign to focus on Obama’s Christianity instead of trying to deny the notion that he was a Muslim. Other tactics included encouraging supporters to act for the campaign in small ways before asking them to commit to bigger goals.
A study released today by the president’s office of National Science and Technology reveals that behavioral science has already helped government agencies target individuals.
Oftentimes, studies of individuals’ behavior led federal agencies to tweak their approach to adjust and simplify their approach to bring in greater results.