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  • Writer's pictureDominic Ridley-Moy

Avoid the biggest mistake you can make with a behaviour change campaign

I thought I'd share this quote from American psychologist B.F.Skinner, as it's as relevant today, as it was back in the 1950s.

Basically, the quote is highlighting that to run a successful behaviour change campaign or intervention, we need to do the groundwork and determine the actual behaviour we want to shift, what underpins this (what are the variables), and what do we want people to do differently. This is so, so important. Skipping this part and going straight to execution will mean that your campaign is likely to fail.

So, if we take smoking as an example, asking people to take the initial step to ring a stop smoking support-line, is very different behaviour to sticking with an attempt to quit smoking and require different solutions.

Also, asking a few simple questions at the planning stage can have a huge impact on your campaigns, because if we don't understand what influences people's behaviour, in the first place, we can't expect to shift their behaviour.

  • What is the problem we want to solve?

  • How do people behave now?

  • What are the barriers that prevent people doing what we want them to?

  • Who are our audiences, mapped against behaviour?

  • When are people conducting the behaviour we are looking to shift?

If we apply this to something like recycling, we can ask questions like,

  • Is the problem around awareness, like people not understanding what can and can't be recycled?

  • Does someone's environment cause the issue, like not having enough room for a recycling bin in a flat?

  • Is the problem because people are in a hurry, while getting ready for work, so don't have time to decide whether something can be recycled or not?

Investigating the underlying reason, why people behave in a certain way and taking the time to do this upfront planning and get this right will always mean that your behaviour change campaigns are better.

As ever, if you need hand planning your campaigns, do get in touch. Drop me an email at or view my calendar and book a chat over Teams.

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