Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


You can't scare people into getting fit or going green

New research published today by the Economic and Social Research Council shows that positive, informative strategies which help people set specific health and environmental goals are far more effective when it comes to encouraging behaviour change than negatives strategies which employ messages of fear, guilt or regret.

Recent years have seen increasing efforts to encourage people to do more for their health and for the environment, for example by recycling more, using cars less and taking more exercise. But what messages have been successful, and why?

Theories have long suggested that by changing attitude, social rules and people's own ability to reach their goals, people’s intentions or decisions to act in a particular fashion will be changed, which in turn determines the extent of change in behaviour. But the supporting evidence for these widely accepted ideas was weak; there was a need to take a closer look at experiments that changed attitudes, norms and self-efficacy in order to measure the true extent of any changes in subsequent intentions and behaviour.

The research project, ‘Does changing attitudes, norms or self-efficacy change intentions and behaviour?’, led by Professor Paschal Sheeran of Sheffield University, provides the crucial missing evidence about the role of these three factors in behaviour change by reviewing all the successful experiments in the past 25 years and quantifying their effects on decisions and actions.

The team identified 33 distinct strategies for changing intentions and behaviour across the 129 different studies. The most frequently used strategies provided general information, details of consequences and opportunities for comparison. Yet the most effective strategies were to prompt practice, set specific goals, generate self-talk, agree a behavioural contract and prompt review of behavioural goals. The two least effective strategies involved arousing fear and causing people to regret if they acted in a particular fashion.

They also examined whether the characteristics of a particular study influenced how well changes in attitude, social norm and self-efficacy influenced intentions and behaviour. There was little evidence that the way factors were measured influenced the findings, though studies that used students or had short follow-up had stronger effect on intentions.

The team’s findings show that changing attitude, social norms and behaviour succeeds in making a statistically noticeable difference in people’s intentions and behaviour about 60 per cent of the time. The team found the amount of change in intentions and behaviour to be ‘meaningful’ and of ‘medium’ size according to standard procedures for describing effect sizes.

Annika Howard | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>