How Social Science Can Help Us Make Better Choices: Optimal Rationality in Action

Chris Brown
University of Portsmouth, UK

Product Details
20 Apr 2018
Emerald Publishing Limited
136 pages - 129 x 198mm
Emerald Points
In a world beset with problems, how can we encourage people to act differently? It seems almost daily that new studies emerge telling us how human action is causing planetary degradation, how changes to our diets could lead to us living longer healthier lives, or that financially we are in danger of returning to the debt related crises of the previous decade. At the same time how many of us adjust our behaviour in response to such information? 

In this new book Professor Chris Brown explores people’s reactions to Optimal Rational Positions: propositions that set out requirements for change. For example the need to reduce carbon emissions to minimize the impacts of climate change is an Optimal Rational Position; as is the need to engage in 30 minutes of exercise a day, to eat more healthily or to drink less alcohol. It seems obvious that we should want to pursue Optimal Rational Positions because they espouse the types of behaviours that will enable us to live healthier, happier or more productive lives; that can improve the lives and outcomes of others; or that can help us ensure social and environmental sustainability. Yet at the same time we often fail to change our behaviours to those which might be most optimal. Outlining an exciting and innovative route forward, and with real-life case studies from education, How Social Science Can Help Us Make Better Choices provides a new way to think about why people make the choices they make and, vitally, the role social science can play in response.
1. An Introduction to Optimal Rationality
2. Using Semiotic Analysis to Fill Rationality Gaps
3. A Case Study from Education - Part 1
4. A Case Study from Education - Part 2
5. Attending to the Signifier - Using 'Scenes' to Make Optimal Rational Positions More Attractive 
6. Lessons for Social Science Moving Forward
Appendix 1: Full Analysis of the Interview Data from Chapter 3 
Chris Brown is Professor of Education at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He is author of Achieving Evidence Informed Policy and Practice in Education: Evidenced and Leading the Use of Research and Evidence in Schools. In 2016, he was awarded the Jeffrey V. Bennett Award for Outstanding International Research.

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