Enhancing Nonproliferation Engagement in an Increasingly Diverse Nuclear Workforce through Innovative Application of Behavioral Science

John Landers - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Jessica White-Horton - Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The nuclear industry is undergoing a renaissance in terms of interest in advancing technology as well as motivation for sustainable energy. Countries previously reliant upon external sources for energy as well as their own fossil fuel resources are expanding their energy portfolio to include nuclear power at increasing rates, motivated to increase energy independence, advance their economies, and positively impact the climate through application of new technologies such as small modular reactors. The market to supply the increasing demand for nuclear power from developing countries is juxtaposed with the need to address nonproliferation measures at the same rate as technology is being adopted. The IAEA along with many other organizations internationally are working together to bridge this gap. The current paper proposes further enhancing nonproliferation engagement in developing countries through innovative application of solutions derived from behavioral science. Specifically, while interventions are often designed for those in the action phase, it is often the case that those we engage are either precontemplative or ambivalent, reducing the efficacy of intervention. A discussion of the transtheoretical model of change is applied to nonproliferation interventions to illustrate alternative approaches for increased efficacy. Additionally, consideration for measuring readiness to change prior to, during, and post-intervention is proposed, allowing for an evolving approach to tailoring interventions to increase engagement. In addition to addressing motivation, it is important to consider the cognitive processes associated with decision making as a strategy for targeting communication of facts in such a way that change is internally rather than extrinsically motivated. Effective use of e-learning as a means of broadening communication is proposed. Finally, future directions for inclusion of behavioral science in adapting and building capabilities to further advance nonproliferation goals is discussed.