READI coordinates and conducts behaviour science research to improve decision-making and behaviour for the world’s most pressing problems.

There are many problems in the world - an incalculable number. These differ extensively in their impacts(e.g., on lives, or wellbeing) and some are widely accepted to be more pressing than others and more important to immediately address. For (much) more on social problems and their prioritisation, please see 80,000 hours.

Graph of expected impact vs problems in order of impact.

It is widely believed that addressing pressing social issues requires understanding and influencing underlying behaviours. For instance, many significant social issue (e.g., relating to emerging technologies, climate change, animal welfare etc) are underpinned by institutional decision-making and policymaking, which are simply specific instances of individual and group decision-making and behaviour.

However, from our perspective, remarkably few organisations are specifically applying behaviour science to understand how to maximise long term flourishing and address our more pressing social problems. Instead, there have been calls for more behaviour change research and theories of change.

What we do

To respond to the need for more work in this area, we aim to advance long term flourishing by conducting behaviour science research and providing related education. We have three broad focus areas.

Identifying where behaviour change or improved decision-making is needed to do the most good

We use research-informed co-design and prioritisation processes to identify projects where behaviour change is needed to do the most good.

This includes connecting practitioners in an area (e.g., animal welfare charity) with expert researchers (e.g., public health dietitians, moral psychologists) and interested volunteers (e.g., EA community members) to select impactful, relatively neglected, and highly tractable research questions and projects.

Coordinating and conducting rigorous applied research

We have extensive academic and EA networks, and can act as a coordinating group for research projects owned by others.

We have specific expertise in conducting primary (e.g., experimental, survey) and secondary (e.g., meta-analysis, systematic literature review) research. In each case, our experience in academic and applied research means we can create knowledge that is immediately useful and rigorous enough to contribute to academic knowledge.

Amplifying the reach and impact of behavioural evidence

We increase the reach of behavioural evidence by using academic and non-academic dissemination activities, including publishing in scholarly journals, creating accessible summaries of our and others’ research relevant to doing the most good.

We increase the impact of behavioural evidence by creating tools for applying the results of our and others’ research into practice, building the capacity of user groups to implement evidence-based recommendations, and iteratively calibrating our research processes to ensure that they are delivering counterfactual value for research users.

Our team

Michael Noetel, Alexander Saeri and Peter Slattery are academic researchers who met at EAGx Sydney in 2017 and founded READI in 2019. Emily Grundy joined READI to lead the animal products review in 2019 and became part of the READI leadership team in 2020.

Our volunteers

We have collaborated with more than 100 volunteers. These include advisors and subject matter experts for each research project; team leaders, for experienced researchers who lead or manage our research projects; and members, for students and junior researchers who want to learn research skills and contribute to project execution. These also include more than 100 researchers and interested parties who helped us with the development and dissemination of the SCRUB project.

Our impacts

We completed and published a meta-review to identify interventions that reduce dietary consumption of animal products. You can read the peer-reviewed article here.

We completed a meta-review to identify interventions that promote charitable donations. The paper is currently in second round review at a journal. You can read the project summary here.

We started the Survey of Covid-19 Behaviours (SCRUB) in March 2020 to provide current and future policy makers with actionable insights into public attitudes and behaviours relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. SCRUB was incubated as a READI project with international collaborators, and received pilot funding from the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University, and went on to be funded by the Victorian Government for a total of 21 study waves over 15 months. Findings from the project were an input to state policy decisions during the Australia COVID-19 pandemic. After each wave of data collection, we generated and disseminated a report for relevant policy makers. More than 50,000 surveys in more than 40 countries were completed. The vast majority of this was Australian data, but we also collected over 3000 international responses. SCRUB was mentioned in the media more than 200 times and published in three scholarly articles.

We have had a significant impact on the careers of effective altruists who collaborated with us on a review and received our research training. It helped Emily (who later became a co-founder of READI) to get a job at BehaviourWorks Australia (Monash Sustainable Development Institute) and undertake a fellowship at Rethink Priorities. We have provided professional references for several volunteer team members who progressed in their research careers.

Our behavioural science newsletter has more than 350 subscribers, most of who are Effective Altruists and has led to at least one job, at Ought. 

Our ongoing exploration of how to translate philanthropy research has attracted interest from more than 30 decision makers at charities, including representatives from The Life You Can Save, GiveDirectly, Against Malaria Foundation, SCI Foundation and Giving What We Can.

More about our research >>>