Everything changes but you…

British pop sensation, Take That, are known for a lot of things but profound lyrics isn’t one of them.   Yet after a week of working to understand and reflect on the nature of changing behaviours I find that the 90’s number one hit single prompts an interesting question.

Why in a world that is ever changing, working in environments that are ever evolving, are we all so stuck in our ways?

I have been working with a group of students from Rainford High Sixth Form, teaching them about the principals of behaviour change marketing. We have a challenge ‘to stop students littering in and around the school.’

As we explore the motivations of students who litter we are finding that it is not as straightforward as we might have first perceived. We are faced with a complex issue but by employing a behaviour change model and basing everything we do on research I am confident that the students will identify some innovative and creative solutions to a problem that has, for a long time, been the bugbear of staff at the school.

Supporting us on our quest to understand and change behaviours are experts in this field. This week we visited Can Cook Studio and were privileged to have an enlightening talk from Robbie and Laura. We witnessed first-hand how changing behaviours is no mean feat.

We were so grateful to be involved in a blind taste test experiment; tasting one dish of mass produced, processed food and then it’s home-made, fresh food equivalent. We all voted on the dish we preferred, the results were surprising. Some of the students actually preferred the salty taste of the mass produced option. An example of this was Calum, who found the pre-packed sausage and mash (aka smash) to be his preferred banger.

After the experiment we explored why these conclusions were reached, we had a chance to educate ourselves on the ingredients in the prepacked dishes. Calum may like the flavour of the inferior product and its soft texture but on inspection of its ingredients does he know what Beef Collagen Casing or Maltodextrin is?

Our session with Can Cook was a great way for us to understand first-hand the nature of behaviour change as we were engaged in a campaign activity which was designed to change ours.

We are just over half way through our behaviour change marketing programme and here are some of the things the students have learnt along the way:

‘Sometimes facts aren’t enough, you need to show rather than tell’ Alisha, Year 12.

‘The shock factor is a good way to get people’s attention but rarely has a long-term impact.’ Misha, Year 13.

‘Tell a story. It brings a subject to life and people remember and share stories.’ Alana, Year 12.

‘People learn in different ways, a staggering statistic is sometimes the thing that sticks with us.’ Calum, Year 12.

‘Education is powerful but the psychology of change is more complex than simply knowing.’ James, Year 12.

‘Change takes time, it won’t happen instantly, but lots of triggers over time can effect change in behaviours.’ Matthew, Year 12.

We are looking forward to sharing the results of our behaviour change campaign later in the year!

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