Behavioural Expertise: Drift, Thrift, and Shift under COVID-19

Joram Feistma, Mark Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Many government responses to the coronavirus-pandemic have been marked by attempts at expertization and scientization. Particularly, politico-epistemological authority is being given to the behavioural science community consulting government. This article critically scrutinizes this most recent wave of behavioural expertization. Taking developments in the UK and the Netherlands as our case-studies, we shed light on the disparate ways in which behavioural ex- pertise is being (re)shaped during COVID-19. Some of these ways point at processes of behav- ioural expertise ‘drift’, in which the applicability and robustness of this knowledge source gets overstated. Other ways instead point at processes of behavioural expertise ‘thrift’ or ‘shift’, where the knowledge is used only minimally or taken in wholly new and norm-breaking direc- tions. Doing so, we seek to demonstrate the importance of institutional context in understand- ing how behavioural expertise is currently shaping public policy: underpinning institutional configurations determine whether the expertise is gauged and applied effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-170
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Review of Public Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2022


  • Covid 19
  • Behavioural Public Policy
  • UK
  • Netherlands
  • Behavioural Fatigue
  • Expertise Drift
  • COVID-19
  • expertise drift
  • behavioural public policy
  • Behavioural Insights
  • institutional context
  • policy-science interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioural Expertise: Drift, Thrift, and Shift under COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this