First-year students of IE University’s Bachelor in Behavior and Social Sciences have been tasked with an assignment designed to lift spirits and morale during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Organized by Jessica Tollette, Academic Director of the Bachelor in Behavior and Social Sciences, this assignment is part of the Becoming a Behavioral Scientist course which is offered to first-year students of the bachelor.

According to Jessica, the aim of the course is to really introduce students to behavioral science and to the way that the field is viewed at IE University. The idea is for them to build their behavioral science toolkit and familiarize themselves with concepts that help us to better understand human behavior, like sociology and psychology for example.

Habit forming is one of the many topics that have been explored in this course. Here, students looked at why we form different habits, where they come from, and how to change and build on them. Along with a 10-week behavior-changing assignment which they carried out through a habit-tracking app called StickK, Jessica gave her students a new task. It involved thinking about all of the concepts learned throughout the semester, and applying them to today’s world.

The 35 students who took part were divided into small groups which each prepared five tips for coping with the COVID-19 quarantine. Students drew inspiration from concepts studied in class about habits, behavioral change, positive psychology, stress management, productivity, and planning. Afterwards, they shared these tips with their classmates. Read on to discover how to use behavioral science to overcome the challenges of the global pandemic.


Use nudging to influence your behavior

A nudge is a behavioral science concept which stimulates positive reinforcement and encourages you to carry out certain activities. You can use nudging as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle in quarantine. Students suggested leaving a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, or keeping your yoga mat in a visible place as a reminder to exercise.

Plan for the present, and the future

Several groups suggested that planning and keeping a routine are essential ways to maintain structure and control during an unpredictable time. Keeping a daily agenda of your activities is crucial for ensuring that you’re keeping your work-play balance in check. It’s also important to maintain a hint of normalcy. Simple measures like waking up at the same time every day and getting dressed in the morning are very helpful.

One group suggested that planning for the future is an ideal way to stay optimistic. Thinking ahead and looking forward to post-pandemic plans will motivate you as you visualize the rewards of your social-distancing struggles.

Stimulate your mind

When you’re presented with lots of unexpected free time, it’s essential to keep your mind active rather than idle. Several groups suggested reading, working on new skills, and taking up an online class as ways to keep that brain working.

Use exercise to reduce stress

During quarantine, it can be easy to spend your time sitting down and looking at screens. Groups that took part in the activity suggested yoga, meditation, and walks in nature (if possible) in order to reduce stress levels and help you put things into perspective.


Stay connected while you social distance

There’s no better time than now to keep in touch with family and reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Students suggested planning video calls and playing virtual games with your loved ones in order to maintain a healthy social life.

Why not set a 30-day challenge with friends? You could complete a fitness challenge, start a virtual book club, or work on a business plan together. Getting creative and staying accountable will help you to stave off loneliness and boredom.

Develop life-enriching skills

With an abundance of free time, now is an ideal time to hone life skills that you’ve always wanted to develop. Not only is cooking essential for survival, but testing and inventing new recipes is the perfect way to feel productive and boost those creative and practical skills.

Keep your perspective

Yes, quarantine can be incredibly tough and isolating. It’s easy to feel negative about your situation and the future. A great way to keep your mental health in check is to remember what you’re thankful for. In the morning or evening, write a list of three things you are grateful for—it’ll make you feel better in no time.


There is no one way to cope with the COVID-19 quarantine, and it’s important to recognize that days will fluctuate between productive and frustrating. This downtime is an ideal moment to reflect on our habits, and that’s why students of the Becoming a Behavioral Scientist course have used this time to apply concepts learned in the classroom to the real world.