The principal aim of the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab (BIP Lab) is to understand the science of parent decision-making. The Lab was co-founded in 2014 by Professors Ariel Kalil and Susan Mayer.
Parents are the single greatest influence on children. Parents’ investments and engagement in their children’s development drives children’s skill acquisition and varies greatly by family background. Disadvantaged children are at particular risk for entering kindergarten behind their more advantaged peers, setting up an achievement gap that persists across the school years and into adulthood. Finding ways to support effective parent investment and engagement in children’s development is key to closing this gap.
The BIP Lab focuses on the science of parental decision-making especially through the lens of behavioral science. Research shows that a variety of low-cost, light-touch behavioral supports can optimize the decisions that people make in a number of key arenas of life, including decisions about health and financial savings. The BIP Lab is dedicated to understanding how such behavioral supports can be used to leverage parental investments to promote children’s development in low-income families. We have successfully applied these tools to parents’ decisions about the amount of time that they invest in educational activities with their children, their children’s attendance at school, and their engagement in their children’s school activities and events.
The BIP Lab employs 4 full time staff members, 7 part-time test administrators and at any one time up to 40 undergraduate and graduate students. It also includes postdoctoral scholars and PhD students. The BIP Lab has partnered with 3,639 families and over 40 CPS and CBO-based Head Start preschool centers in Chicago and 47 schools in the Southwest U.S. in implementing its research.