Science and human behavior.silhouette of man.

Science, Human Behavior, and Setting Effective Goals

Science refers to a set of practices that produces knowledge about the natural world through systematic observation and experimentation.

For example, when attempting to understand the relation between exercise and weight loss, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence or personal accounts (which could be biased for many reasons), researchers might gather a large number of randomly selected exercisers and non-exercisers to see if those who exercise weigh less than those who don’t.

Or researchers might go a step further by conducting a well-controlled experiment in which some people are required to exercise, while others abstain from exercising, and then examining the rates of weight loss in the two groups. By studying phenomena in a systematic and controlled way, science is more likely to produce valid information about the natural world.

In addition, science is skeptical. Until a phenomenon has been observed several times, researchers are often wary of accepting the phenomenon as real. As scientific evidence mounts, though, consistent findings increase confidence in the truth of these observations. When there are inconsistencies that arise during the course of scientific analysis—for example, when studies discover that some people who exercise do not lose weight—researchers delve deeper into a phenomenon to better understand why the inconsistent findings and what other factors might be involved.

In short, a scientific approach to understanding the world is likely to produce information that is more accurate than less systematic approaches. Once researchers understand what causes what to occur in the natural world, they have a better chance of using that information to produce socially important changes in human behavior. Hence the reason we have taken a scientific approach to designing Gale.

Unlike many habit-change applications, which rely on best guesses or anecdotal evidence about what should work to produce behavior change, Gale is built on a scientifically validated, psychological theory of human behavior that has been examined and refined for over a century. As such, Gale is more likely than other apps to provide features that ultimately lead to longer-lasting behavior change.