Skip to navigationSkip to content


Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Mannequins placed between tables to make customers sit according to social distancing rules.

How behavioral science can help enforce social distancing

Will Hanmer-Lloyd
Member exclusive by Will Hanmer-Lloyd

By necessity, Covid-19 has transformed our day-to-day lives nearly beyond recognition. A big part of this change has been enforced by legal and rule-based changes that dictate people’s behavior, such as mandated isolation and the closing of schools, offices, non-essential shops, bars, and restaurants.

But not all behavior can be legislated. No one can actually force people to wash their hands or maintain a six-foot distance at all cost. It’s extremely difficult to stop people from gathering if they want to. But we can turn to science for help.

Behavioral science is the rigorous application of science to understand human behavior and—importantly—what influences it. We can apply techniques and use the best research and insight into nudges, heuristics, and human decision-making to understand how to influence the largest number of people to follow and comply with government recommendations around Covid-19—whether on a national, company, or local level.

You are reading a Quartz member exclusive.

Become a member to keep reading this story and the rest of our expert analyses on the changing global economy.

Why we think you’ll like it:

Quartz Japanへの登録をご希望の方はこちらから。