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Interview with Silvia Cottone

Behavioural Science is a rapidly expanding field and everyday new research is being developed in academia, tested and implemented by practitioners in financial organisation, development agencies, government ‘nudge’ units and more. This interview is part of a series interviewing prominent people in the field. And in today's interview the answers are provided by Silvia Cottone.

Silvia is an applied behavioural scientist. She has a Master's degree in Behavioral Sciences for management at the University of Stirling (UK). She works as a Behavioral Team Leader at BeWay where she implements her creative, innovative and analytical skills to design and experiment evidence-based solutions in Latin America. Silvia is also a Lecturer in Behavioral Economics and Decision-making at IE University (Spain).


Who or what got you into Behavioural Science

I have quite a nice story about how I got into Behavioral Science 🙂

Before studying my masters in Behavioral Science for Management at Stirling University, I was studying languages and business in Italy. During my first year, I had an English exam and, luckily for me, my lecturer wanted us to read 'Thinking, fast and slow' by D. Kahneman.

I had a prior interest in consumer's behavior and psychology and after reading the book for the exam, I was fascinated about Behavioral Science and I knew that was the career path I wanted to pursue. The book - and all that I read, watched and listened afterwards - was just the answer I was looking for!

What is the accomplishment you are proudest of as a Behavioural scientist?

Any project I work on that has a positive impact on people´s decision-making makes me very proud of my job. This doesn´t necessarily have to be related to pro social behaviors. I really enjoy helping companies see from their clients´perspective (not just the product) and help them make decisions that improve their lives.

If you weren’t a behavioural scientist, what would you be doing?

I would definitely be a full-time traveler. As my colleague Choyos once told me, in relation to Gamification I´d be an explorer. I have a very curious mind. I love the unexpected and to socialize with locals to understand their cultures and their ways of living (which doesn't go far from understanding human behavior as a Behavioral Scientist). Anyways, if you don't find me at my desk working on a project, you surely find me on a plane 😀

How do you apply behavioural science in your personal life?

I mostly use it to organize myself. For example, I always consider the Planning Fallacy when a new project comes up, or I even give myself rewards when I finish some tasks. In my personal life, I also try to implement Behavioral Science to build healthy habits. I usually start with small changes, for example meditating 10 minutes per day or standing up from my chair every time I finish a meeting. So far it has worked!

With all your experience, what skills would you say are needed to be a behavioural scientist? Are there any recommendations you would make?

Especially after finishing university, I learned that there are quite a lot of skills that you can mostly improve when applying them in your daily work. In relation to consulting, it is very important to build good relationships with clients and be extremely empathic in order to accomplish the goals. In this context, I think it's a very important skill people who want to work in consulting need to take into account.

How do you think behavioural economics will develop (in the next 10 years)?

As I mainly work in Latin America, I think that there is a growing interest both for learning and applying Behavioral Science in different sectors, which makes me think that in the next 10 years that will only be a growth in the field.

I´m also very lucky to be teaching Behavioral Economics at IE University and see how eager the students are, not only to understand theories, but also to have practical examples on how to use this knowledge to solve real problems and make a positive impact.

What advice would you give to young behavioural scientists or those looking to progress into the field?

I´d suggest connecting with people on social media. The Behavioral Science community is very helpful and always ready to share their experiences.

Which other behavioural scientists/economists would you love to read an interview by?

I´d like to read an interview with Gonzalo Camiña, who has a future-oriented view on the application of Behavioral Science in general and in relation to Technology and AI.

What are the greatest challenges being faced by behavioural science, right now?

Considering my latest experience in consulting, it's an extremely fast growing field. Only last year at BeWay, we increased our team x2 due to the high amount of projects coming up. This is amazing news, of course, but we also need to adapt rapidly to this change and to the new challenges of BeSci application, such as people´s interaction with technology or the risk of oversimplifying the discipline to “biases and nudging”. At BeWay, we have built our own methodology for behavioural interventions (BeMate) and the team is constantly researching and exploring to keep up with the new scientific discoveries and contribute to the evolution and democratization of the discipline.

What is your biggest frustration with the field as it stands?

I don't think I have a particular frustration. I guess I have more hopes. For example, what I see with my students, especially women, is that they appreciate seeing a lot of inspiring women in Behavioral Economics which motivates them to push forward in this field and not to be too intimidated. I find it amazing and something that I hope the people in the field will encourage more and more.


Thank you so much for taking the time to write down these amazing answers Silvia!

As I said before, this interview is part of a larger series which can also be found here on the blog. Make sure you don't miss any of those, nor any of the upcoming interviews!

Keep your eye on Money on the Mind!

1 Comment

Lloyd Prudence
Lloyd Prudence
Mar 15, 2023

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