Meet the IIU’s Behavioural Science Fellow: Colin Scott

Impact Canada
3 min readNov 18, 2022
Colin Scott

In what way do you believe the application of behavioural science can effectively support Canada’s communications to the public?

I bring a unique perspective as a newcomer to the federal public service. Both as a Newfoundlander raised in a bilingual environment, and as an applied researcher trained in the psychological and political sciences, Colin’s personal and professional experiences have underscored the importance of collaboration and perspective taking, as well as a desire to learn and operate in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment.

Based on your skills and past experience, what unique perspectives do you bring to this work?

My professional experience has provided me with the tools to bring an empirical lens to questions about social impact, program evaluation, and policy development. As a multilingual (English, French, Spanish) research professional who has worked in applied social and community-based research in both Canada and Latin America, I also have extensive experience working in cross-cultural settings and I am excited about the great advantages and opportunities diversity brings to society.

In what way do you believe the application of behavioural science can effectively support Canada’s communications to the public?

Applied social and behavioural sciences have a strong role to play in advancing the public interest. Our work is focused on facilitating positive social impact and seeking valid explanations about how and why different programs and services work (or not). Moreover, applied sciences centres around a culture of transparency and openness. For these reasons, the many applications of behavioural science can support Canada’s public communication strategies by helping to build greater confidence and understanding about the research process, while demonstrating the value and importance attached to evidence-based decision-making.

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

A big part of my research program involves understanding how people think about diversity in the world around them and what effect these thoughts and perceptions have on the way we feel about and treat others. I have been working to identify ways to identify the barriers newcomers face navigating life in Canada, and ways to reduce the uncertainty that people often feel during cross-cultural interactions. By facilitating opportunities to engage with people coming from different backgrounds and having different lived experiences, and examining the impact of these contact experiences, we are taking steps to showcase the many strengths and benefits diversity can bring to society, pushing back against the narrative that diversity is a problem to be managed. I am proud of this research, and I am hopeful we can continue to grow this work in order to identify and scale up interventions aimed at overcoming social barriers and build a more inclusive and accepting society that works for everyone; a society that is better positioned to tackle emerging challenges that affect us all.

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