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Interview with Michelle Handy, PhD

How does one create behavioral change to support growth?

In this Beauty of Conflict episode, Susan and CrisMarie interview Michelle Handy, senior behavioral scientist and user researcher, about influencing behavior change in teams and product development. Michelle discusses the value of an outcomes-focused diagnostic approach and the application of psychology in understanding human dynamics and soft skills. She explains how to use the Construal Level Theory to align behavior with long-term goals by activating abstract thinking and suggests techniques like inducing high-level mindsets and asking “why” questions. She mentions leveraging scientific frameworks like the COM-B Model and self-determination theory. Michelle also encourages integrating academic literature reviews into the design thinking process to gain insights into user pain points.

Learn about the many applications of behavioral science in this episode!

About Michelle Handy

Michelle Handy is a Ph.D. Behavioral Scientist and User Researcher with excellent communication skills and a drive to solve complex problems with empirical evidence. She has over 8 years of experience leading and executing research at technology companies and in academia, including behavioral science, user research, and consumer insights. Her research has spanned the full range of human behavior — from sustainability to political lobbying to weight loss management — providing her with a deep understanding of the basic drivers of human behavior, which she leverages to inform product and service design. She is skilled at communicating complex concepts clearly and persuasively across wide audiences to drive business decisions.

As FM Global’s first Applied Behavioral Scientist, she impacts the Product Organization in three ways: (1) by laying the foundation for quantitative behavioral research on a wholly qualitative user research team, (2) by infusing Behavioral Design into the product development process, and (3) educating and training UX and Product to apply key behavioral science principles in their work.

If you’d like us to speak at your organization about conflict, stress, team-building, or leadership, work with your team virtually, or coach you or leaders on your team, reach out to us!

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Key Take-Aways

  • What is the Construal Level Theory.

  • How to align behavior with long-term goals.

  • How to apply an outcomes-focused approach in an industrial, product setting.

  • What are some strategies to induce long-term focus.

  • How behavioral science can be applied to subjects like climate change and weight loss.


  • Connect with Michelle Handy on LinkedIn.

  • Check out the book Start at the End by Matt Wallaert here!

  • Try out Google Scholar here!

  • Listen to more episodes of The Beauty of Conflict podcast here.

  • Find more details about Come Alive at Haven here.

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  • Watch Ted Lasso, if it spiked your interest, here!

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  • Connect and follow CrisMarie on LinkedIn.

  • Listen to past episodes of the Podcast on Apple Podcasts.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work with leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help dysfunctional turnaround teams into high-performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy, so they create great results.

Download the eBook, How to Talk About Difficult Topics, today!

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