apps About the Behavioral Development Lab (BDL)

Pioneered by three young researchers—Prof. Heather Schofield, Prof. Frank Schilbach, and Prof. Gautam Rao—the Behavioral Development Lab focuses on integrating behavioral economics and development economics to understand the causes and consequences of poverty. The BDL, housed under LEAD (formerly IFMR LEAD), an action-oriented research center of IFMR Society with strategic oversight from Krea University and affiliated with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at South Asia (J-PAL SA), conducts numerous research projects at the intersection of development and behavioral economics. We believe that by understanding the lives of the poor, we can both improve our understanding of the drivers of poverty and promote more effective, efficient, and compassionate policies.

view_day What we do?

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we conduct randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to study the lives of the poor in various areas across India. We study behavioral mechanisms and develop interventions to solve economic puzzles in developing economies. Our lab-in-the-field approach enables us to identify causal effects, while also maintaining external validity, allowing our findings to be translated into action in the real world.

location_on Where do we work?

The lab is primarily based in Chennai, however, we also undertake projects in other locations, currently including Goa and Lucknow.


Did you know?


What is Behavioral Economics?

Behavioral economics studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on the economic decisions of individuals and institutions and how those decisions vary from those implied by classical theory.

What is Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)?

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment that aims to reduce certain sources of bias when testing the effectiveness of new treatments; this is accomplished by randomly allocating subjects to two or more groups, treating them differently, and then comparing them with respect to a measured response.

Are the urban poor Sleep Deprived in Chennai?

Yes, The BDL Study found that Low-income adults in Chennai sleep 5.6 hours of objectively measured sleep per night, despite 8 hours of sleep recommended by sleep experts.

What are Nudges ?

Nudge is a concept in behavioral science, political theory and behavioral economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals.

What is Heuristic ?

A heuristic is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal.

What is Cognition ?

Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and "computation", problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language.

What is the Hawthrone effect?

The Hawthorne effect is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. This can undermine the integrity of research, particularly the relationships between variables.

What is the Endowment effect?

In psychology and behavioral economics, the endowment effect is the finding that people are more likely to retain an object they own than acquire that same object when they do not own it.


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