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December 14, 2011 / davebirss

The Rules #84

Don’t try to change what people think.
Try to change what they do.


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  1. Riccardo / Dec 14 2011 11:16 am

    But to change what they do, don’t they have to change what they think?

    • davebirss / Dec 14 2011 10:46 pm

      Thanks Riccardo,
      That is the rational view of behaviour change – that people change what they do because they’ve changed what they think.
      That view continues to be popular because we’d all like to think that we’re rational human beings in control of our minds.
      But studies show that that’s not always the way it works.
      A lot of people are big believers that cars and planes are harmful to the environment and that they should be used less. Yet, they continue to use their cars for journeys they could walk and fly to holiday destinations. They know it’s bad – and they’ll tell you that it’s bad – but it’s not changed what they do.
      On the other hand legislation forced people to start wearing seatbelts in the UK. Stricter measures were also taken to stop people drinking and driving. This enforced behaviour change has led to an increased belief that wearing a seatbelt is the responsible thing to do and driving under the influence of alcohol isn’t.
      I’m not suggesting that legislation is the way forward. But I hope this proves a point.
      There’s some interesting behavioural economics and cognitive psychology work in this area.
      I hope that helps,

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