Reconfiguring behavioral science for crisis knowledge management

How can the behavioral science community be most effective in responding to the present global COVID–19 crisis? What kind of science can we do, and how should we go about doing it?

Follow us on twitter


The goal of this initiative is to further the reconfiguration of behavioral science for crisis knowledge management through a transparent, digital, community-based forum for scientific exchange that simultaneously solves several key demands:

  • stimulating collaboration and knowledge exchange;
  • boosting the quality of new studies through early feedback;
  • providing rapid post-publication evaluation, critique and integration with extant knowledge;
  • supporting the semi-automated construction of a large-scale knowledge-base;
  • providing an interface for journalists, policy-makers, and citizens seeking to pose questions to behavioral science; and
  • providing a dynamically evolving database of experts, accessible both to other scientists, and to policy-makers and journalists.


We are creating the infrastructure necessary for crisis knowledge management. Our goals are to facilitate:

Knowledge creation

The crisis demands rapid responding, but “fast” is at odds with many of the things that make good science. What we need to be looking for is parts of the process that we can trim without cutting unduly into quality: we need a model of proper science without the drag.

Knowledge integration

We need to avoid needlessly reinventing wheels, we need meta-analyses, and we need to manage the likely flood of new research. This means a degree of synthesis that goes well beyond the slightly haphazard publication of reviews in normal science.

Knowledge dissemination

Developing new tools for knowledge aggregation will help disseminate knowledge, certainly to other researchers. But the nature of the crisis will mean that at least some of this knowledge must be disseminated to policy makers, journalists, or the wider public.

Managing consensus and disagreement

We must learn how to build consensus, shelving theoretical debates that are important to us in “normal science”, but that have little consequence for current action. There will be contexts where legitimate disagreements remain. These cannot be glossed over and should be made known to policymakers.


Putting reconfiguration into action

@SciBeh twitter account

On our Twitter account we post stuff. Please liberally mention us using @SciBeh whenever you want to draw our attention to something.

Ask the behavioral science community a question on subreddit r/BehSciAsk

For researchers, policy makers, and journalists: Ask the behavioral science community a question on research relevant to the COVID–19 crisis. E.g., “How can you encourage individuals to keep the recommended minimal distance to others?"

Discuss research on subreddit r/BehSciResearch

Discuss research from the behavioral sciences (COVID-19 related or more general; e.g., research ideas, experiment designs, discussion of preprints, evaluation of published work, information on past work and discussions of its relevance now, moving from research to policy, and methods and tools). E.g., see the resource collections on COVID-19 already out there.

Discuss how we do research on subreddit r/BehSciMeta

Discuss how we as a behavioral science community should adapt how we do science for an effective COVID–19 response. For example, here is a post detailing emerging ideas and tools.

Growing knowledge base

Using, we are annotating a growing knowledge base where you can find a wide range of items ranging from tweets, newspaper and blog articles, reports to preprints and peer-reviewed articles. Please liberally mention us on twitter using @SciBeh whenever you want to draw our attention to something that could be made part of this knowledge base. To learn more, check out this blog post.

Preprint detailing ideas and discussion points

“Crisis knowledge management: Reconfiguring the behavioural science community for rapid responding in the COVID–19 crisis”

Hahn, U., Lagnado, D., Lewandowsky, S., & Chater, N. (2020, March 21). Crisis knowledge management: Reconfiguring the behavioural science community for rapid responding in the COVID–19 crisis.

The present crisis demands an all-out response if it is to be mastered with minimal damage. This means we, as the behavioural science community, need to think about how we can adapt to best support evidence-based policy in a rapidly changing, high-stakes environment. This piece is an attempt to initiate this process. The ‘recommendations’ made are first stabs that will hopefully be critiqued, debated and improved.