SAQN home Forums SAQN Discussion Board Behaviour Change Reply To: Behaviour Change

Jean McKendree

I am a cognitive and environmental scientist and I am not surprised that you didn’t have enough social scientists in your meeting. We are often forgotten, especially in “hard” science projects, until the end when people then want some sort of “awareness raising”, dissemination, evaluation or, indeed, behaviour change.

I agree with Nigel that the questions often need to be considered differently. People are motivated by a myriad of values. There is no single way to get people to make changes, especially “drastic” ones. People are also often aware of the impact of their decisions, but they make those decisions for a reason. We may not agree with those reasons but people are almost never arbitrary in their choices unless it is something that doesn’t really matter very much to them.

This is a problem with “nudging” – examples like automatically enrolling people in pensions works because many people, especially just starting out in the job market, don’t think about them that much and they are not very contentious. However, the same automatic enrolment for organ donation evoked a very large negative reaction.

This long-winded message is basically to encourage MORE FUNDING for social science research and to ensure that all projects think about including appropriate expertise. We have some very exciting and innovative methods for getting at what people’s core constructs and values are that drive their behaviour which is the crucial first step in even thinking about how to encourage more sustainable behaviour.