PB314      Half Unit
Behavioural Science in an Age of New Technology

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Bradley Franks CON.3.07 and Dr Dario Krpan CON.4.08


This course is available on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

When Psychology and Economics got "married", the product was Behavioural Science. Although this discipline has elevated theoretical and practical understanding of human behaviour to previously unseen heights, recent technological developments have produced new insights in understanding and predicting people's actions that not only supplement traditional tools of behavioural science but also go beyond them. The future of the discipline will therefore likely depend on how effectively behavioural scientists can harness new developments in technology to understand and change the way people act. The course will tackle behavioural science in relation to motion tracking, virtual environments, social robotics, social networks, and other relevant developments in information technology.

By the end of the course you should:

  • Understand major technological advancements that are relevant for predicting, influencing, and understanding human psychology and behaviour.
  • Be able to outline how the above can supplement and extend commonly used tools of behavioural change.
  • Have examined how a wide range of technological developments can be used to propel psychological and behavioural science into the future.
  • Have investigated whether new technologies merely allow behavioural scientists to scale up traditional tools of behavioural change, or whether they produce new insights that can result in novel tools of behavioural change previously unknown to behavioural scientists.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. There is a reading week in Week 6 of Lent term.

Lectures will be delivered jointly with PB434, an MSc level course in the department. Classes will be specific for undergraduate students.

Formative coursework

For each major and minor assessment option there is an equivalent piece of formative coursework. These are designed to help students to prepare for the summative assessments.

Formative coursework to support minor assessment

  • Draft script for presentation
  • Draft script for podcast
  • Proposal for poster
  • Proposal for visual media

Formative coursework to support major assessment

  • Draft proposal for policy case study
  • Outline of essay
  • Draft parliamentary POSTnote and annotated bibliography
  • Draft blog post and Draft OpEd

Indicative reading

  • Krpan, D., & Urbanik, M. (2020). From Libertarian Paternalism to Liberalism: Behavioural Science and Policy in an Age of New Technology. Behavioural Public Policy 1-27
  • Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(15), 5802-5805.
  • Sailer , M., Hense , J. U., Mayr , S. K., & Mandl , H. (2017). How gamification motivates: An experimental study of the effects of specific game design elements on psychological need satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 371-380.
  • Broadbent, E. (2017). Interactions with robots: The truths we reveal about ourselves. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 627-652.


Assignment (30%) in the LT.
Assignment (70%) in the ST.

Students will choose ONE minor and ONE major assessment from the lists below:

Minor Assessment (30%, due at the end of Lent Term)

  • 10 minute recorded presentation
  • 10 minute podcast
  • A1 poster
  • A5 visual media

Major Assessment (70%, due at the start of Summer Term)

  • 3000 word Policy Case Study comprised of Executive Summary (250 words) and Proposal (2500 words)
  • 3000 word Essay
  • 1500 word parliamentary POSTnote with 1000 word annotated bibliography
  • 1500 word blog post AND 1500 word Op-ed

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: 10

Average class size 2021/22: 10

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills