Editor’s note: Matthew Hellon is a research executive at global insights agency Northstar Research, London. 

You’ve likely heard of behavioral science. After all, we’re all in the behavior business. 

Some think behavioral science is just a list of human irrationalities, often used to explain a point you’re already trying to make. Need to explain why people say they recycle when they don’t? Use social desirability bias. Need to explain why people won’t switch to your brand? Use status quo bias

Thinking of behavioral science in this way isn’t necessary problematic. But you may be missing out on ways you can improve your understanding of human behavior. The field has more to offer – much more. Marketing is all about human behavior. This means you should be using as much relevant behavioral science as possible. This includes behavioral science frameworks. These are an underutilized and more practical element of the field. Behavioral science frameworks help change behavior because they bridge the gap between theory (scientific study) and practical application (changing real-world behavior). 

Frameworks structure processes and provide safety with their credibility and their social proof. Behavioral science frameworks structure the process of developing behavior change interventions (actions that try and change behavior). Interventions can be anything from mass media campaigns to changes in the physical environment. 

Interventions are more effective when they’re based on theories of human behavior. Rather than just assuming the barriers or facilitators of a given behavior, theories tell us what the real influences are. This is useful. But theories are hard to apply in the real world. They seek to explain human behavior, not help change it. That’s where frameworks come in.  

Many behavioral science frameworks exist. Three of the most prominent are: 

I’ll explain what these frameworks...