Meet the IIU’s Behavioural Science Fellow: Brian Pereira

In what way do you believe the application of Behavioural Science can effectively support the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19?

- Some of the toughest challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic have been about human behaviour. Whether it’s encouraging mask use, following social distancing rules, or motivating vaccine enrollment, we can scientifically test solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. By applying evidence-based behavioural science in the Government of Canada, we can take positive intentions about preventing COVID-19 and transform them into important actions.

What attracted you to apply to the Fellowship program amidst a pandemic?

- For many in science, you might wonder, “is what I am doing going to make a difference in the world?” I was attracted to the Fellowship program because it provides an opportunity to make that difference a reality. The pandemic response to improve the lives of individuals and our communities requires a major focus on behaviour change. Being a Fellow will help the government understand how we can scientifically test interventions to make that change possible. Collectively, Fellows in the team can introduce and advocate for evidence-based decision making to help solve many societal challenges. I look forward to joining the program and doing my part to benefit Canadians.

Share an outcome from your past research in — or application of — Behavioural Science that made you proud.

- At Canada’s largest mental health hospital, I was proud to work with a team applying behavioural science research to better understand the impacts of substance use in young adults. From multiple projects, we gained insights on what predicts cannabis and alcohol mis-use by looking at influences of the environment, cognitive ability, personality, and intentions to use. One outcome we learned from tracking behaviour over time was how more individual impulsivity increases how much young adults use alcohol. Together, this behavioural science research will continue to better inform mental health policy in Canada.

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