Insights for Impact Report: Highlighting Psychology Research for Policy

4 October 2016


Reported by Ryan Hamnett, MRC-funded CSaP Policy Intern (September - December 2016)

In an environment of competitive funding, demonstrating the value of research is paramount and at the forefront of many academics’ minds. The Department of Psychology in Cambridge is taking active steps to highlight the importance of psychological research and how it might be applied to policy-making, industry and wider society by producing the first of what is to become an annual report, Insights for Impact.

Compiled and edited by Dr. Kai Ruggeri, Director of the Policy Research Group, the report offers a window into psychological research which is having, or will soon be having, a real impact on policy. The research is presented in an accessible and digestible way, divided into 5 themes representing key areas of research and policy. Brief accounts of research findings are presented alongside their potential future impacts.

The report focuses on research published between 2011 and 2015, but its scope is far-reaching with respect to where it might be applied. For example, in one study the effect of reputation on cooperative behaviour in the context of energy usage was investigated. It found that a public commitment to saving energy was more effective than anonymous sign-up or even a reward system. This research could be used to implement more effective energy reduction measures in the future, but could also be applied to any voluntary sign-up programme.

In another example, an investigation demonstrated that a brief rest after learning improved memory retention of the subject material, which may be used to improve teaching children. In the context of improving health policy, a piece of research showed that patients who had an active role in choosing their preferred form of treatment were more likely to complete the course and report higher satisfaction rates.

The report spans topics from decision making (such as in industry and government) to making use of big data and ultimately to health and well-being; indeed the authors state that health and well-being should be the ultimate aim of any policy. Future iterations of the report will particularly highlight work carried out by Cambridge researchers, as well as featuring specific laboratories that are generating useful insights for policy.

The report can be downloaded in full here:

(Banner image via Bill McConkey, Wellcome Images; thumbnail from A Health Blog via Flickr)