In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah, both of the University of Chicago, suggest that behaviorally informed interventions to help kids think about their thinking can help youths “rewire” their automatic responses when these responses are likely to be maladaptive. The promising results from four separate randomized control trials in Chicago—including the Becoming a Man program—suggest that expanding this type of intervention nationwide could yield favorable outcomes. The authors therefore propose a five-year demonstration project, coordinated by the federal government, to gather further evidence on this model and to learn effective strategies for adapting the intervention to local conditions. The ultimate goal of the proposal is to provide all disadvantaged youths in America with this program in order to help them recognize difficult situations in which their automatic responses may be wrong. This effort, if successful, would reduce crime, raise graduation rates, and thereby improve the long-term well-being of our nation’s most disadvantaged young people.
Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah
The Hamilton Project, May 2014