6 tips for a successful behavioural change programme


Behavioural sciences are not accurate sciences. And it’s not easy to successfully engage a behavioural change programme, especially when behaviour changes need some sacrifices and utility loss, such as, in climate change case, travelling less, eating less meat, buying less electronically stuff and so on.


Between 2010 and 2012, a programme of research into climate change relevant behaviours has been taken forward by the Scottish Government. Drawing learning, the programme argues that influencing behaviour is crucial, and offers some thinking about how this might be done. Here are 6 tips the late programme’s results highlight:

  1. Leading by example by key players remains a critical starting point for developing new social norms around sustainable lifestyles.
  2. Behaviour change should work in an integrated way, bringing together individual, social and material elements in a coherent way, to create new and lasting social norms.
  3. Moments of change are genuine opportunities to change. Thus, there are major life events (having a first child, moving to a new area, starting a new job…) where people are looking for social cues as to how best to adapt to new circumstances.
  4. It is important to frame engagement and communications using intrinsic values to drive meaningful change.
  5. There is a need to test out behavioural thinking in a systematic way in order to help drive more sustainable lifestyles.
  6. Every major programme needs evaluation. Robust monitoring and evaluation help prioritise those programmes that offer best value for money, and equally improve programmes so as to maximise value for money.


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Sources: Scottish Climate Change Behaviours Research Programme, Institute For Government


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