Since spring 2020, the RIVM Behavioural Science Unit has been supporting COVID-19 policy by developing, sharing and translating knowledge derived from behavioural science into insights and focal points for public policy and communication. Different forms of research have been used, including surveys, interviews and literature reviews. 

The main lessons learned from various studies on behaviour, well-being and confidence during the pandemic have been outlined in ‘knowledge syntheses’ (only in Dutch). These documents also include reflections on an effective deployment of behavioural knowledge in the pandemic control efforts. This international case study (only in Dutch) took a more in-depth look at lessons learned regarding how behavioural science studies were organised during the pandemic. 

Providing access to knowledge derived from behavioural science

All the knowledge and data resulting from these studies is compiled and collated into publications on current topics, such as willingness to vaccinate, or compliance with staying home and getting tested (or using a self-test). The Behavioural Science Unit also regularly organises online clarification sessions to support policy at national and regional levels and for implementing bodies. At the national level, this involves government ministries and crisis organisations; at the regional level, these sessions are held for municipalities, Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), and security regions.

The research results and insights of the Behavioural Science Unit are shared with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), the response team at RIVM, and (since autumn 2022) with the Social Impact Team (MIT). RIVM does not have a seat on the Social Impact Team, but contributes its expertise on behavioural science as an advisory expert. A similar role is reserved for the directors of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), and the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER).

Knowledge from within RIVM and beyond

The work of the Behavioural Science Unit at RIVM is supported by behavioural scientists and communication researchers at RIVM and beyond, including an independent Scientific Advisory Council consisting of eleven prominent university professors. Input from various expert teams is also incorporated.

Contact us

Get in touch with the RIVM Behavioural Unit. E-mail: