The world of psychology has long moved on from the traditional idea of a clinician and a chaise lounge. It has a broader reach that drives both our subconscious and conscious actions – from what motivates us to choose a certain doctor, to what we buy at the shops.
You may not give much thought to the choices you make day-to-day, but it is this intricate human behaviour that prompted University of Newcastle (UON) student Kurt Lancaster to explore a career in behavioural science.
Abandoning the idea of becoming a registered psychologist, the Singleton local embarked on a journey to better understand what drives people to make decisions in order to better support their needs, and found himself in an exciting role he never even knew existed.
“I’m a very curious person by nature and wanted to work in an area that brings about real positive change for people on a broad scale, so studying psychology made sense to me.
“Initially, I had an interest in dealing with mental illness and wanted to explore what motivates people to do what they do, but once I commenced my studies I realised that the world of psychology was so much broader and touches every aspect of our lives,” he said.
As his knowledge of the field grew, Kurt discovered the emerging world of user experience and behavioural economics.
“Behavioural Economics is a fairly new concept in Australia. It’s the idea that humans have the potential to be rational decision makers, however as emotional and distractible beings, the choices we make aren’t always what’s best for us.
“I’m interested in what factors lead people to make certain choices, and hope to use that knowledge to enhance their experience,” Kurt explained.
Armed with a bachelor degree in Psychology and an inquisitive nature, Kurt recently secured a role as a Behavioural Researcher for nib.
“The work I’m doing includes things like looking at the decisions and behaviours involved when people go to hospital so we can develop ways to improve their experience.
"It’s so satisfying being able to apply the research methods and knowledge from my studies in a job I never even knew existed. Moving forward, I hope to make a difference by implementing these skills in wellbeing research or public health.”
Despite already working in the field, Kurt’s passion for human behaviour still takes him well beyond the workplace.
Along with a team of friends from UON’s Economics Society, he recently competed in Australia’s first ever Nudgeathon – an international behavioural change competition where students develop solutions to real-life social issues.
“This year’s issue was looking at how to increase rates of volunteering amongst 18 – 30 year olds.
“I love that I can now employ the things I’ve learnt from my time at UON to real-world scenarios and come up with solutions that have the potential to bring about positive change.”
UON’s Bachelor of Psychological Science equips students with the skills to become experts in human behaviour, and graduates enjoy an 87 per cent employment rate. With job opportunities rapidly emerging, Kurt stressed the simple decision to follow his passion was key to his story of success.
“I would encourage anyone to study a Bachelor of Psychological Science and realise that psychology is something you can apply to absolutely anything.
“The best thing you can do is explore your own interests and you’ll find something that fits you,” he said.
Kurt Lancaster's keen interest in human behavior has led him beyond the realms of traditional psychology
It’s so satisfying being able to apply the research methods and knowledge from my studies in a job I never even knew existed. Moving forward, I hope to make a difference by implementing these skills in well-being research or public health