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Dr Rupert A J Alcock

BA, MSc, MSc, PhD

  • BS8 1LN

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Research interests

My research examines the recent surge of governmental interest in cognitive-behavioural science and compares its influence in international policy contexts. Specifically, I show how ‘behavioural insights’ – policy-ready claims regarding human behaviour derived from scientific research – are shaping aid and development policy at international organisations like the UN and World Bank. Behavioural insights posit universal social and psychological factors that influence decision-making beyond the bounds of conscious awareness. Tracing this agenda’s intellectual origins in post-war economics and its policy origins in UK government experiments conducted in the mid-2000s, my work has followed the trajectory of behavioural insights from these early sources to their now widespread and growing influence in international politics.

My second, related research interest relates to capacity building practices in the field of maritime security governance. I explore how behavioural techniques and technologies are applied and translated by practitioners and local actors in the specific context of capacity building in Somalia. I use the case to demonstrate the pervasiveness of a new behavioural approach to international intervention and global governance, and to inquire into the nature of emergent practices in maritime security sector reform. 

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • International Development
  • Global Political Economy


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