Most of my work is concentrated outside the US – in that vast section of the world we conveniently label “The Global South” (is there a better term?) – Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America. But COVID-19 struck America in a way I’d previously seen or heard of, growing up in India. What was clearer then and equally critical now is that protective behaviors like wearing masks and physical distancing are critical to ending the pandemic. Sema Sgaier and I wrote this at a time when President Biden had a task force for COVID-19 (it’s been subsequently disbanded for a more formal organization in the Biden-Harris administration) but there was a curious absence of behavioral scientists for a pandemic where behavior was critical!
We argue that not only should a COVID-19 task force have behavioral scientists but also that they shouldn’t be only academics. Some of the hardest work is translating behavioral science into action and for that we need applied behavioral scientist folks – working currently in consulting firms, NGOs, organizations such as health tech and others.
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