Impact Canada
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Impact Canada

Meet the IIU’s Behavioural Science Fellow: Emma Littler

What made you decide to apply for the Fellowship program?

After completing my graduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience, I was keen to find a role where I could use my unique skills to tackle important research questions and make a meaningful difference. I was drawn to the Fellowship program after learning about how behavioural science insights can be applied to solving real-world Canadian issues. This program is an excellent opportunity for me to immerse myself in diverse areas of government research and promote direct change to public policy in Canada. I am thrilled to be joining this incredible team of scientists, and to use and expand upon my knowledge and research skills.

Share an outcome from your past research in — or application of — Behavioural Science that made you proud.

As a graduate student at Queen’s University, I had the opportunity to study the impact of early-life adversity on behavioural outcomes in rodent populations. For my Master’s thesis, I explored the long-lasting effects of adolescent stress on adult anxiety and depression behaviours using a meta-analytic approach. Through this project, we gained valuable insights into what factors moderate the relationship between adolescent stress exposure and mental health outcomes later in life. These behavioural insights can help to guide new avenues of research, and over time these findings can better inform mental health policy in Canada.

Why do you believe government departments should embrace the application of experimentation and Behavioural Science?

The application of behavioural science in government departments has the potential to uncover the most important problems that the Canadian public is facing. Through rigorous research and experimentation that is guided by behavioural insights, these problems can be solved in the most effective and impactful way. This process allows the public to play an important role in the policy decisions that are made every day, leading to positive outcomes for all Canadians.

How would you describe applied behavioural science to someone who is unfamiliar with its utilization in public policy?

At the simplest level, behavioural science is the study of human behaviour and how we interact with the world around us. This understanding of human behaviour can come from a variety of disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, sociology and statistics. When faced with real-world problems that the Canadian public is facing, we can use these behavioural insights to design experiments and test solutions to resolve these problems. These findings can then be used to better inform public policy decisions that the government is making and improve the lives of Canadians.

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The Government of Canada wants innovative solutions to economic, environmental, and social problems. (En français: https://medium.com/impact-canada-fr)

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Impact Canada

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