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BiteSCIze with Rosie Webster

  • Who are you?

My name is Dr Rosie Webster and I specialise in behavioural science and user research. 

  • How did you get into Behavioural Science?

My MSc was in Health Psychology, which includes a lot of behavioural science. After my PhD, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher at @UCL on a digital health and behaviour change project at UCL, using a very early version of the Behaviour Change Wheel! After leaving academia, I did a mixture of user research and applied behavioural science in startups and scaleups. My speciality is working at the intersection of behavioural science and human centred design.

  • What are you working on right now? 

I currently work at Zinc, where we support people to build brand new startups, focussed on improving the health of people and the planet. I support founders in their journey to developing an impactful product. This includes things like user research, product ideation, prototyping, and testing – as well as bringing behavioural science into what they do. I provide a combination of hands-on support (e.g. workshopping with individual founding teams) and imparting knowledge and skills (e.g. through the creation of content and resources).

  • What do you like most about what you do?

I love making sense of chaos. User research and the design process can often generate a large amount of data and insights – I love helping founders to make sense of this, and identify the key problems to be solved and how. Behavioural science, with its many theories and frameworks, is extremely helpful in this process.

  • What is the role of communications in changing behaviour?

The messages that we give, and how we give them, have a huge influence over how people behave. This applies in all contexts – whether that be a TV show, a news article, or a behaviour change campaign. Almost all communications will influence people in some way – it’s important to think strategically about those communications, in order to ensure the outcome of that is positive.

  • If you could work/research any topic what would it be and why?

Health is the area that I’m most interested in, and love pretty much any topic in that area. However, an area I’ve never worked in and think would be super interesting is political opinions and voting behaviour – particularly how messaging and communications affects this!

  • What is your favourite behavioural science paper/book/resource and why?

My number one recommendation is always “Engaged” by Amy Bucher – she does a brilliant job of bringing in the process of behavioural design, as well as bringing to life how to tackle different behavioural drivers using digital products.

  • Who do you think is interesting in the general field?

I really love Michelle Segar‘s work. Her approach of reframing physical activity is really interesting, and really tackles automatic motivation in a way that many interventions don’t. 

  • What haven’t we asked you that we should have?

What’s the best way to build a business that has impact? The answer is to absolutely have impact as one of your top priorities – measure it, and assess your success against it – not just against commercial success. Everything else will flow from there. If it’s not a top level business goal that you measure yourselves against, you won’t succeed.

  • Who is one person that we can speak to for our next interview and if you could ask them one question, what would it be?

I would suggest Inka Karppinen – I’m sure she has some super interesting insights on cybersecurity, and how communications influence behaviour!

Finally, a note from Zinc…

Zinc is an early stage mission-driven investor. We invest in founders to create innovative solutions and build ambitious businesses that tackle the most pressing and complex challenges facing the health of people and the planet. We select and invest in exceptional founders who can have outsized impact using cutting-edge science and technologies.
Our next cohort kicks off in May 2024 and applications are now open. If you’re an innovator, entrepreneur or academic looking to tackle big challenges affecting the health of people or the planet, and want to make 2024 the year you launch your mission-driven business, we’d love to hear from you. Learn more at: https://www.zinc.vc/

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