The power and potential of Behavioural Design: practice, methodology, and ethics

Camilla K.E. Bay Brix Nielsen*, Philip Cash*, Jaap Daalhuizen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


Behavioural designers adopt practices from both design and behavioural science. Yet methodological discussions are fragmented across these fields. In response, this paper–for the first time–examines and draws together research on decision-making and methodologies applied to behavioural design via a systematic review. We identify three major themes challenging current understanding of behavioural design: Complex behavioural design space, Systemic behavioural design, and Behavioural design empathy and ethics. These themes give rise to a fundamental reconceptualization of the behavioural design process captured in our ‘Behavioural Design IM-PACT process model’. This model integrates a fuzzy front and back end around a co-evolutionary development process. Through this, we explain how design and behavioural science practices can be synthesised to deal with wicked behavioural problems in a complex context where a long intervention afterlife is inevitable. This highlights the way towards more integrative behavioural design with major implications for researchers and practitioners across fields. Trial registration identifier: NCT01602705.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Behavioural design
  • Decision making
  • Design methodology
  • Design practice
  • Systematic review


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