BSI will focus on the following four major programmes. The Initiative is collaborating with several agencies to implement these programmes. Each research programme consists of a series of studies and employ multiple research methodologies. Each research programme is translational in nature, linking basic scientific research with applied action research driven by specific conditions in the Singapore context. By taking a multi-disciplinary and evidenced-based approach to examine issues involving human behaviour, and working closely with academia, private companies and government agencies, the Initiative seeks to generate findings that will translate into impactful execution of practices and policies that positively impact individuals, organisations and society.

1. Health Promotion and Healthcare

This research programme examines a variety of behavioural sciences and health issues focusing on disease prevention and health promotion. The studies examine how the dynamics of health-related mental representations and inter-relationships may affect the attitudes, perceptions and behaviours of individuals as they respond to health-related messages as well as in doctor-patient interactions. An increased understanding of the nature of these effects will help make better decisions in the public policy, workplace and individual contexts on matters related to disease prevention and health promotion. The programme studies behavioural issues relating to social behaviours, public communications and engagement in the context of group differences across gender, age and other demographic variables.

2. Marriage and Parenthood

The Singapore government has introduced a slew of financial (baby bonus, childcare subsidy), tax (working mothers’ child relief) and paid absence from work (full pay maternity leave) incentives to encourage childbearing over the years, but these appeared to have had limited positive effects. Over the years, numerous attitudinal survey studies and focus group discussions on marriage and parenthood have been conducted in Singapore but the findings of attitudes have not translated into policies that can more effectively address individual and social attitudes towards marriage and parenthood. From the national perspective, there is clearly a need to better understand the attitudes and behaviours of Singaporeans in marriage and procreation, and examine the policy initiatives’ impact, and how policies can be refined to increase their efficacy. Through this research programme, BSI is working with various public agencies, employing multiple research methodologies to identify factors affecting social interactions, mate selection and decisions to marry and have children (and when to do so).

3. Community Development, National Integration and Nation Building

With the increasing ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of Singapore’s population and the need for national integration involving foreigners and Singapore citizens, it is critical for Singapore to be able to formulate and implement integration policies that are based on robust research evidence, in order that we can effectively maintain and promote social cohesion in our society. Through a multiple methodology approach, this research programme will help generate more rigorous empirical evidence in the Singapore context on issues such as cultural cognition and intergroup relations that can complement the existing information and database for policies relating to community development, national integration and nation building.

4. Quality of Life and Well-Being

Issues of an individual’s quality of life and well-being are fundamental to human behaviours and they create both constraints and opportunities for the effectiveness of public policies and organisational interventions in virtually all domain areas. The BSI is well-equipped to address these issues given the extensive research expertise and overseas networks available at SMU on the scientific research of quality of life and well-being. This research programme adopts a variety of complementary research methodologies to examine the structure and processes of well-being and quality of life. It also examines how an individual’s happiness and quality of life in various domains can be enhanced through policy formulation and implementation, in addition to increasing material well-being and prosperity. The programme focuses on multiple levels of analysis at the individual, organisational and societal levels, as well as different segments of the population. The findings will have direct implications for organisational practices and public policies related to issues of urban development and sustainability, talent attraction and retention, engagement and workplace policies.