The core premise of behavioral science is that humans have limited cognitive resources and use shortcuts to conserve those resources. Those shortcuts often lead to predictable behavior, so we can study and design environments to systematically “nudge” better behaviors. NORC applies rigorous, state-of-the-art methods from cognitive science, experimental methods, survey methodology, and statistical analysis to understand behavior, judgment, and decision-making in household finance, labor force experience, and retirement planning. NORC supports clients in developing policy and understanding the implications of policy, understanding consumer insights, and evaluating the impact of programs on consumers.
NORC has provided actionable insights to financial institutions, governments, foundations, credit card companies, insurers, and financial service providers. For example, NORC partnered with Morningstar, The Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program, and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association to better understand the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and what those impacts meant for the financial security of American households. NORC found that emergency savings were critical in mitigating the effects of financial shocks associated with the pandemic. While most households did not access retirement savings to mitigate financial shocks, there was an increase in households accessing these funds during the pandemic. This work also showed that pandemic-related financial impacts exacerbated disparities among income, race, and ethnicity groups. Lower-income households and households of color were more likely to report a greater decline in household financial security when compared to higher-income or white households..