HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

CH600150 - The One to Many Approach: introduction: what are behavioural insights?

You should check the other guidance available on GOV.UK from HMRC as Brexit updates to those pages are being prioritised before manuals.

Behavioural insights describe how people actually behave and what influences decision making. Behavioural insights largely come from behavioural science and applications of that science. Behavioural science disciplines include behavioural economics, social psychology, and design thinking. The behavioural study of tax compliance is a field in its own right.

A frequent misperception is that behavioural insights solely consists of ‘nudges’, usually in written communications. In fact the use of behavioural insight in government ranges widely across policy, service design and communications. In the UK we have redesigned the entire system of private pension provision using behavioural insights and £4 bn more was saved in the first full year of operation. HMRC has been using behavioural insight in different areas of the organisation since 2000.

This guidance focuses on what is useful for you to know when designing and delivering such activity and highlights where there are experts in HMRC who can support this.