Default bias and public safety

Intervention · Health

Mitigating the status-quo to better public safety

Intervention Description

In a dangerous area in Cape Town, South Africa, researchers designed a tool that would prompt young people to choose safer activities. This tool was designed to mitigate the status quo bias - which is the tendency to prefer the current situation, even if that situation is worse than one that could be achieved. In this case, that means that young people would choose to continue doing unsafe activities. The tool they created prompted users to think of safer activities, and then to create a plan that would involve doing these activities in safer areas. This caused the users to try to find the best option, rather than stick with what they were used to. Users were 61% as likely as a control group to feel unsafe, and half as likely to experience violence.


Effective interventions start with a nuanced understanding of how decisions are made. Our mission is to help large organizations be better and do better, using behavioral science.

Learn about what we do
Notes illustration

Eager to learn about how behavioral science can help your organization?