Looking at the six steps you can take to begin a behaviour change project to tackle climate change in your community.
- What behaviour are you trying to change? This will include a specific behaviour with a clear measurable outcome
- Whose behaviour are you trying to change? This may include different demographics. Climate Outreach recently identified seven segments characterising the UK population in relation to their climate views, and have published their ‘golden questions’ for segmentation
- Where are you trying to change the behaviour? The location or context in which you wish to change the behaviour in
- When are you trying to change the behaviour? The time of day, week, month or year at which it would be most important to change behaviour, and
- How often are you trying to change the behaviour? The frequency – this may be every hour, every day, week, month, or year, or at a specific life event e.g moving house.
- What behaviour are you trying to change? To increase recycling of food waste by 10 per cent
- Whose behaviour are you trying to change? 21-30-year-old males
- Where are you trying to change the behaviour? Those who live in x ward
- When are you trying to change the behaviour? March 2021-June 202
- How often are you trying to change the behaviour? After every meal eaten inside the home
This is where you gather information to understand what is driving the behaviour, or if there are any barriers to completing the behaviours for an individual or group.
You should be looking for what people are actually doing and why they behave in this way, not what they should do.
You can use a model called COM-B ('capability', 'opportunity', 'motivation' and 'behaviour') to diagnose whether the drivers of behaviour may fall in someone’s capability, opportunity or motivation to complete the behaviour. Simple explanations can be found beneath and further context of the Behaviour Change Wheel framework can be found in The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions.
This model will provide a live understanding of how residents are behaving at the moment. You could ask individuals through a survey, a focus group, an interview, a questionnaire, an observation, or any other research method, to understand what the barriers to doing (or not doing) the behaviour are.
The following table outlines some enablers to performing the behaviour which you may like to consider in your research.
This is knowledge whereby someone knows what to do and how.
Any set of physical actions that require an ability or proficiency learned through practice. This includes:
Anything real or abstract which enables or prevents a behaviour.
This may include:
This comprises anything to do with social influences including how we behave in relation to others. Questions you might ask include:
Conscious – how much I want to do the behaviour and the perceived consequences. This may include:
Unconscious – an impulse or urge to act in a particular way. This may include:
Step 3. Choosing your intervention
Once you have understood what is driving behaviour, you can choose an intervention type which is likely to change the behaviour.
An intervention is a strategy we use to change someone’s behaviour.
What intervention types are available to you?
This table describes the name of the intervention type, what it means and a concrete example of what it might look like when applied to an environmental challenge.
|Education||Increasing knowledge and understanding by informing, explaining, showing and providing feedback||
Explaining that UK households produced just under 27 million tonnes of waste in 2017. That's equivalent to 409 kg per person - roughly the weight of four adult giant pandas.
|Persuasion||Using words and images to change the way people feel about a behaviour to make it more or less attractive||
A campaign saying “Why are you tossing litter around here? Don’t be a tosser. You brought your rubbish here, please take it home with you.” This induces amusement and shame at the same time.
|Incentivisation||Changing the attractiveness of a behaviour by creating the expectation of a desired outcome or avoidance of an undesired one||Providing a reminder that “If you remember to turn off your lights in rooms which you are not in, you’ll save on your electricity bill.”|
|Coercion||Changing the attractiveness of a behaviour by creating the expectation of an undesired outcome or denial of a desired one||A monetary fine for fly tipping|
|Training||Increasing the skills needed for a behaviour by repeated practice and feedback||A video on how to ride a bike safely on the roads|
|Restrictions||Constraining performance of a behaviour by setting rules||Setting yourself a rule to only use your car for journeys which take longer than 30 mins (if you were walking)|
|Constraining or promoting behaviour by shaping the physical or social environment||
Create segregated cycling lanes on the roads to reduce the proximity to cars and other vehicles
|Modelling||Showing examples of the behaviour for people to imitate||A local leader running a class on how to cook a healthy and tasty meal which does not include meat, and in doing so, role modelling a behaviour|
|Enablement||Providing support to improve ability to change in a variety of ways not covered by other intervention types||Provide recycling bins/bags/compostable bags/boxes to residents’ doors|
The blue boxes indicate which intervention types have been most successful in past behavioural change projects, depending on what you have found to be the biggest drivers for change, or barriers to changing your behaviour. Each COM-B element matches with its most appropriate intervention type.
For example, if I know that a barrier to litter picking with the community on a Saturday morning is that I do not have the physical opportunity to do so safely, I might use the enablement intervention and provide a litter picker (see the ‘x’ in the box beneath).
Whilst you can use more than one intervention example, you can use a set of criteria called APEASE applied to the interventions which you are considering. These may help you decide which intervention/s to use given your local context:
The APEASE criteria
Affordability – can it be delivered within an acceptable budget?
Practicability – can it be delivered as designed and to scale?
Effectiveness – how well does it work in your locality?
Acceptability – is it judged appropriate to relevant stakeholders and potential users?
Side effects/safety – does it have positive or negative side effects or unintended consequences?
Equity – will it reduce or increase disparities in health, wellbeing or standard of living?
Think about your evaluation from the outset to make sure that your behaviours are measurable. How will you measure if you achieved the behaviour change which you set out to achieve in stage one?
Practical things to consider:
- What resources do you need to measure whether your intervention has worked? This may include money, time and staff resources
- What type of data can you use? Can you make use of existing data?
- Do you have a baseline of behaviour, also known as baseline data, to measure whether the behaviour has changed?
- Have you considered GDPR issues?
- Can you compete a questionnaire, an online survey, a focus group or a series of qualitative interviews?
- At which points in the process will you evaluate the project? Ongoing evaluation is ideal.
- Will you need to complete and Equality Impact Assessment form to make sure your intervention is fair/equitable and is not discriminating against any group?
Who are the participants?
- The target population you outlined in step one
- You may want to choose a sample of this population (for guidance on sample size, see tip two in Nudges for social good: practical tips and learning from the LGA's behavioural insights programme | Local Government Association
You could use one of the following options to evaluate whether your intervention has worked:
A randomised control trial
- You will need to randomly assign those who will receive the intervention and those who will not.
- Those who do not receive the intervention will be called the control group.
- Those who receive the intervention will be called the treatment group.
- Compare the results of the control and the treatment group using an appropriate statistical test to see if the intervention has worked.
Top tip: Consider whether it is ethical to apply the changes to one group and not the other.
A controlled before and after study
- You will take a baseline measure of the prevalence of the behaviour within the same group of people both before applying the intervention, and afterwards.
- What was the outcome before the intervention? What was the outcome after the intervention?
Interrupted time series design
- You will gather data at many points whilst you are applying the intervention
- Over the time period of applying the intervention, have you seen a behaviour change?
- Could it be attributable to the intervention, or another variable happening at the same time?
Broader questions to consider
- Was the intervention received in the way it was intended?
- How did the target group experience the intervention?
- In what way did the intervention have an effect?
- Did it contribute to a broader outcome?
- Were there any unintended consequences (positive and negative)?
- Was it cost effective?
- Did it have a different impact for different groups of people?
- Follow up on whether the intervention is still making a difference six months to a year after finishing the initial trial period
- In evaluation, go back to the behavioural analysis to see if the barriers are the same after you have delivered your behavioural change intervention
- Think about your evaluation from the outset to make sure your behaviours are measurable
- Be open and explicit about the research method with your participants.
How can we apply this six step guide to our local climate behavioural challenges?
A series of climate change behavioural challenges can be found in this resource. Each will need to be modified for your local behavioural diagnosis and context but they provide a starting point for thinking about the behaviour which you want to change, the questions you may wish to consider in your behavioural diagnosis and examples of interventions to set you well on your way to making local changes.
The behaviours include those which we can change in our own homes, in the community, consumption and travel. It is a not a comprehensive list of green behaviours but using the format, you can hopefully apply it to any behaviour which you wish to change.