At the department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB), we are specialists in the science of behaviour change and the interplay between human behaviour and technology.

Why do we behave the way we do, and how does our behaviour change? Why is it that some people can successfully adapt their diet or lifestyle, and others seem unable to? What drives behavioural changes among people and groups? How can our governments help us to behave in ways that are healthy, sustainable and inclusive, or that will make our countries, societies and cities a safer place to live? What role can technologies play – from virtual reality or artificial intelligence to human-media interaction and value-based design – in influencing our behaviour for the better? And, conversely, what does our behaviour tell us about how these new technologies should be developed? These are some of the key questions we deal with as researchers, educators and societal problem solvers at the HIB department.

Alexander van Deursen (Chair):

"Technology has always influenced people’s behaviour. From early man’s use of flint to create fire for warmth, food preparation and signaling, to today’s use of social media, apps and other digital technologies, the tools and resources at our disposal change our expectations and the way we act as individuals or in a group. At HIB, we’re specialists in that interaction and in using it to influence behaviour for the better."

Our education

At a university known for its High Tech Human Touch approach, and as part of a faculty specialised in merging social sciences with technology and engineering, it goes without saying that our involvement in UT education reaches far, and across many disciplinary boundaries. The goal of our department is to equip professionals – whether next-gen or veteran – with the knowledge and tools they need to understand how behaviour change works, and how, in a tech-driven world and across different societal domains, it can be influenced for the better.

Our research

At this department, we study behaviour change from a cross-disciplinary perspective that includes psychological, social, communicative and governmental theories. We make intensive use of the latest technological innovations as a method of understanding behaviour. Think, for example, of machine-learning, artificial intelligence (AI), text mining, human-media interaction, or experience-sampling. We also use and study tech as a means of facilitating behaviour change. Examples of this include value-based and creative design, the use of sensors in influencing behaviour, virtual reality, gamification, and, of course, apps.

Our research centres

More examples of research and student projects

Creating value for society

As a part of the ultimate people-first university of technology to empower society through sustainable solutions, the HIB department aims to create real value in everything we do. Helping people and society toward long-term changes of behaviour is an important part of many of the challenges our world faces today. Think of developing sustainable and healthy lifestyles, or the ability to adapt to constant change, or to live in a digitalised environment: our expertise helps people and groups to stay on the same page in a changing world.

Other areas in which our expertise can make a difference include algorithmic governance, maintaining social cohesion and connectedness, and digital healthcare. Starting from a common vision of a fair, sustainable, digital society, we support a wide range of organisations in designing responsible solutions and interventions in key areas, such as safety, health, well-being, sustainability, and connected societies. We also collaborate with local and national governments, offering evidence-based policy input.

Through our education, research and applications, we contribute to four of our faculty’s research themes: health, smart industry, sociotechnological transformation, and resilience for smart cities, sustainable communities and safe societies.

Our latest news

Our board members

Chair A.J.A.M. van Deursen (Alexander)
dr. I. van Sintemaartensdijk (Iris)
Assistant Professor
dr. M.R.R. Ossewaarde (Ringo)
Associate Professor in Governance, Society & Technology
prof.dr. G.J. Westerhof (Gerben)
Department Chair Psychology, Health, and Technology
dr. S. Zebel (Sven)
Associate professor (UT) & endowed professor mediation (VU)
dr. T.J.L. van Rompay (Thomas)
Associate Professor

Our departmental sections