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Behavioral Research Associate

Arlington VA

Job ID: 2019-1382


Rare inspires change so people and nature thrive. Protecting the environment ultimately comes down to people, and the actions those people take. Influencing those actions requires an expertise in behavior change.

Over more than three decades, Rare has partnered with local organizations to run more than 400 behavior change projects in nearly 60 countries, promoting community-led adoption of solutions as diverse sustainable coastal fisheries management, fuel-efficient cookstove use, reciprocal water agreements, regenerative agriculture, recycling and waste management, individual actions to mitigate climate change, and more.

Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment was launched in 2017 to bring the best insights from behavioral science and design to tackle some of the world’s most challenging environmental issues. Through partnership with leading academic and research institutions, we are translating the science of human behavior into practical solutions for environmental organizations worldwide. The integration of insights from the science of human behavior – what we call ‘Behavior Centered Design’ – is underdeveloped in the environment field in comparison to other sectors such as health, education, finance and public policy. We aim to change that by promoting adoption of the principles and practices of Behavior Centered Design by thousands of environmental leaders and practitioners around the world. Our vision is that by 2030, conservation challenges are dramatically more solvable because Behavior Centered Design is the norm in our field. To do this, we aim to raise the profile of behavioral science and design and build demand for it in the conservation space, to create compelling evidence that Behavior Centered Design leads to better conservation outcomes, and to strengthen the ability of practitioners and leaders to apply the strategies and tactics of Behavior Centered Design in their own work.


Position Overview:

Rare is looking for an innovative and solutions-oriented team member who values conducting rigorous behavioral science research but above all else wants that research to have a positive impact for people and nature. Reporting to the Applied Behavioral Science Lead, Center for Behavior & the Environment, and working closely with other team members, the Behavioral Research Associate will be responsible for conducting thoughtful and rigorous primary and secondary research, and applying that research to environmental challenges, including co-authoring papers when relevant.

The primary responsibility of the role is to conduct behavioral science research. This research takes multiple forms, including literature review, cross-sectional surveys, experimental and quasi-experimental studies, as well as qualitative interviewing. The ideal candidate will be able to design, execute, and analyze research across these modalities, with a particular focus on conducting intensive secondary background research followed up with rigorous quantitative data collection and analysis.

This role also includes working with Center team members and outside partners to develop behaviorally informed solutions to environmental challenges. This involves applying Rare’s Behavior Centered Design process, a combination of Human Centered Design and behavioral science. Finally, this role involves applying behavioral science expertise to develop content for internal and external audiences explaining the relevance of behavioral insights to a non-expert audience.


Core Responsibilities:

Design, conduct, and analyze novel studies

Given a particular research question, taking that project through the entire research cycle. This includes designing a study to evaluate that research question, executing that design in multiple modalities, such as online workforces, lab in the field, and field studies, rigorously analyzing the collected data, and reporting those results in both a scientifically accurate and widely understandable way.

Past product example: The design, execution, and analysis of a study testing the effect of descriptive norm messaging on the purchasing of carbon offsets via Facebook and Google Ads

Conduct background research

Develop reports on insights from the behavioral science literature to understand the motivations and context actors have for engaging or not engaging in key behavioral outcomes.

Past product example: Literature review on adopting a plant rich diet, including the demographics of current buyers, known barriers and motivations, and current interventions being deployed to shift these behaviors

Develop behavioral interventions

Given a particular set of behavioral insights for a given problem, apply Rare’s Behavior Centered Design approach to develop a novel intervention to achieve a behavioral outcome.

Past product example: The design of a game deployed in coastal fishing communities which highlights the cooperative dilemma nature of overfishing, designed to change key normative beliefs around the practice

Develop materials which highlight applications of behavioral science

Drawing on your knowledge of behavioral science, develop materials for the wider environmental audience which help them apply these insights to solve environmental challenges. These materials will come in multiple forms, including toolkits, training activities, and web-based popular science pieces.

Past product example: A blog post showcasing a study which highlights the relevance of the anchoring effect in increasing willingness to purchase carbon offsets


Education and Experience

Excellent understanding of the behavioral science literature and how it can be applied to solve complex problems

2+ years experience conducting psychological/behavioral science research, including primary research such as lab, field, or survey studies as well as secondary research such as literature reviews

Strong quantitative skills necessary to design and run rigorous experiments, including experience with power analysis, study design, and data analysis. Experience with R and econometrics preferred.

Comfortable working with cross-sectional, quasi-experimental, and experimental data.

Masters degree with a focus on a directly relevant subject area preferred (including but not limited to behavioral economics, psychology, cognitive and decision science, organizational behavior, etc)

Willing to travel on a flexible schedule as needed (up to 15%)

Familiarity with and appreciation of open science standards of research, such as pre-registration, open data, and open materials

Strong ability to independently acquire new quantitative skills based on project needs

Experience communicating scientific ideas to non-scientific audiences in writing and speaking



Posted November 27, 2019

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