Behavioural Dynamics Institute
The Behavioural Dynamics Institute, reportedly established in 1989, is, according to its own account "the leading international centre of excellence for research and development into persuasion and social influence. The output of the institute’s work is fundamental to the effective application of public diplomacy, information operations, civil contingency and all aspects of strategic communication."
The institute works with Universities around the world developing behavioural models, which are now used widely in many governmental applications. BDI boasts of, its academic network which spans the globe. "It is the only academic organisation in the world whose understanding of the psychology of persuasion has been successfully applied on a global scale".
According to BDI, its history is as follows:
- In 1989 Nigel Oakes set up an academic working group at London University to develop a more effective method of communication for conflict reduction. The key objective of the unit was to produce a workable model of communication and persuasion that could be used in crisis and social situations. The group attracted many academics from a wide spectrum of disciplines and within one year 53 universities from all over the world were participating in the research.
- A European investment consortium provided all of the necessary funding and in 1990, the Behavioural Dynamics Institute was born.
- The initial findings of the first year’s research shocked the group. The analysis of global events clearly showed that the methods that had been developed for advertising and marketing were the same methods that were being applied to critical communication situations. Advertising agencies were producing commercials extolling the virtues of birth control in Africa and anti-gun legislation was winning marketing awards in Canada. Millions of dollars were being spent on communication methods that did not work and worse still, many people were dying as a result.
- It was obvious to all members of the Behavioural Dynamics group that a new communication model needed to be produced as fast as possible.
- Led by some of the most influential social psychologists in the field, the working group produced a communication model that could be applied to any homogenous group situation. In effect this meant that as long as the group all had the same problem, the communication would work.
- In December 1990 field trials were conducted on a number of audience groups.
There is little information available in published form on the web or in the press about the history of the BDI or its sister organisation the Strategic Communication Laboratories. The identities of the experts involved in unclear and the research undertaken is not published. According to one of the few mentions in the press SCL's work 'is based on something that even the spokesman admits you won't find on the Web: the Behavioral Dynamics Institute, a virtual lab led by Professor Phil Taylor of Leeds University.'
One client of the group has been the Singaporean military. On ex-director Andrew Ritcheson's Linkedin profile (see right) Bernard Lim, the head of the Singapore Ministry of Defence's Applied Behavioural Sciences Department commends Ritcheson on his work with BDi when they were hired as consultants in 2008.
Website and domain name
The registrant of the domain name bdinstitute.org is Richard Lucas of Vision 360 Ltd at an address in Pinewood Film Studios. To see the full registration details see Behavioural Dynamics Institute, Whois entry. Vision 360 has also worked for Strategic Communication Laboratories and two James Bond films setting up fake 'opcentres'.
Key People 2010
- Dr Lee Rowland - Director and Senior Academic Fellow
- Gaby Van Den Berg - Senior Consultant and Lecturer
- Dr Megan McCorriston - Lecturer and Senior Researcher
- Joshua Mora
- Dr Tania Tam - Ad-hoc lecturer and Senior Researcher
- Dr Jonas Vibell - Lecturer and Senior Researcher
Additional staff listed in 2008
- Dr Andrew Ritcheson - Director and Senior Academic Fellow
- Vaughan Myles Dutton - Senior Training Consultant
- Abi Davison Jenkins - Specialist Training Consultant
- Dr Micheal Mellor - Specialist Training Consultant
- Dr Maria Jalmbrant - Specialist Training Consultant
- Nancy Snow, September 7, 2006. Presenter, “Public Diplomacy and American Power,” Behavioural Dynamics Institute. Cliveden House, Berkshire, United Kingdom.  There is a photo of Nancy Snow and Kelton Rhoads at the conference outside Cliveden House on Flickr
- Gary Rawnsley, ‘Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy' conference, Behavioural Dynamics Institute, Clivenden, UK, 6-8 September 2006.
- Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley, ‘Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy' conference, Behavioural Dynamics Institute, Clivenden, UK, 6-8 September 2006.