Health Behavior Research


Our projects for NGOs and government agencies focus on applying behavior change theory and advanced statistical modeling to identify new pathways for changing health behavior for the better. We have a particular interest and expertise in the role that habit plays in health behavior. This includes healthy habits (e.g., exercise, handwashing, medication adherence) and unhealthy ones alike (e.g., smoking, fast food consumption).

Recent projects include:

  • A 10-country segmentation to promote women’s sexual and reproductive health in the developing world (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
  • Nudges and behavioral interventions to reduce open-defecation (World Bank)
  • Health promotion optimization for reducing mosquito breeding through better water management behaviors (USAID & Johns Hopkins)
  • Nudges to promote hand washing behavior (USAID)
  • Behavior change analytics to increase enrollment and retention in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


For more information on the scientific basis of this work, see the following key publications from Catalyst founder, Dr. David Neal: 

  • Wood, W., & Neal, D. T. (2007). A new look at habits and the habit-goal interface. Psychological Review, 114, 843-863. 
  • Wood, W., & Neal, D. T. (2016). Healthy through habit: Interventions for initiating and maintaining health behavior change. Behavioral Science and Policy, 2(1), 71-83.
  • Rothman, A. J., Gollwitzer, P. M., Grant, A. M., Neal, D. T., Sheeran, P., & Wood, W. (2015). Hale and hearty policies: How psychological science can create and maintain healthy habits. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(6), 701-705.





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