Sunday July 17, 2011
So, one of the most recent pieces of thinking on behaviour change - the idea of 'nudging' people towards different behaviour is now thought not to work - at least not in isolation. The idea forms the basis of the book "Nudge - improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness".
This on-trend theory proposes that by making it easier for people to opt for better choices they will - for example by putting fresh fruit at the supermarket checkout, not chocolate (personally, I would still seek the chocolate out wherever it was, so perhaps that's all the evidence you need! Ann)
It was reported today that a report due out later this week in the UK will say that it doesn't work and in fact it takes 20 - 25 years to change behaviour. This has implications for the Big Society concept here in the UK where the government set up a 'nudge unit'
Of course we need to be mindful of any politics at work around this report, but it has been done by a sub group of the UK House of Lords science and technology sub committee so should be sound.
So are we wasting our time with PR campaigns that set out to change behaviour? The report draws on the example of a campaign in the UK in the 1970s to get people to wear seat belts - it only worked when legislation was brought in. Here in the UK and across Europe, we could perhaps say the same about stopping smoking - how much more powerful is a ban on smoking in public places as a driver of behaviour change?