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behavior change

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

USAID
Two Guides You Must Read Before Using Mobile Technology for Behavior Change

“As the desire to utilize mobile phones in international health projects has increased in the last few years, organizations continually ask a similar question, “We want to use mobile phones. Now what?” But the decision to introduce or start a mhealth project needs to come after answering many questions before “now what?” especially when dealing with behavior change communication projects. Enter Abt Associates, FrontlineSMS, and Text to Change. Two guides have recently been released to help organizations assess whether or not mobiles are the right tool, and if they are, the process moving forward. One is from Abt Associates and is entitled mBCC Field Guide: A Resource for Developing Mobile Behavior Change Communication Programs. The other one was created in collaboration between FrontlineSMS and Text to Change and is entitled Communications for change: How to use text messaging as an effective behavior change campaigning tool.”  READ MORE

The Earth is Dying, So What?

Darshana Patel's picture

Public awareness campaigns about climate change can be real downers. This one was too scary for children and was eventually pulled off the air. This one scared even the adults and was pulled off the air within hours of its release.

Doom and gloom scenarios seem to be the dominant theme in most of these campaigns. But are they working? According to Futerra’s Sell the Sizzle, these campaigns completely miss the target with this type of negative messaging.  While it is true that climate change is aggravating problems like mass migration, overcrowded cities, and food shortages, our message need not be about Armageddon. We are trying to sell a version of climate change hell when we should be selling a low-carbon heaven, argues Futerra

Is There an App for That?

Maya Brahmam's picture

I’ve been working with my colleagues on the Apps for Climate competition. We’ve been puzzling over the intersection of climate and technology and what sorts of new ideas we’ll get from this exercise. What about “little green nudges?” Is there an App for that?

“Nudges” are subtle messages that have been used to change behavior. George Webster’s recent article on CNN’s website notes that, “whether we're conscious of them or not, nudges -- of a sort -- are all around us. From the rumble strip along motorways -- gently encouraging motorists to remain in the correct lane -- to rows of brightly colored candy wrappers, less subtly inviting us to pick them up and place them in our shopping cart…” And what’s more, they work and have the potential to be harnessed for the greater good.

Watching People As They Walk

Sina Odugbemi's picture

If you have ever spent time on any major campus, you will be familiar with what I am about to describe. The architects of the campus will usually have laid out paved walkways for pedestrians to use as they move from one building to the other. These prescribed walkways are designed to protect the carefully maintained lawns that major campuses also tend to have, urging pedestrians to refrain from walking on the often gorgeously manicured lawns. If you are familiar with campuses, you also know that people tend to ignore the prescribed walkways. They move around the campus in ways that makes sense to them, even if that means carving ugly footpaths through carefully gardened lawns. The controllers of the environment try to forbid the use of footpaths, but they usually give up after a while. Hence, part of the story of a well-used campus is the network of footpaths, distinct from paved walkways, that sprouts over the years…and remains well-trodden with a stubborn, almost riotous, insistence.

We Are All Copycats (and that includes you)

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In theory, we admire and aspire to originality. We claim to be different, in fact, singular in every way. Yet, according to the authors of an important new book on social behavior, we are far less original than we think. We don’t like to acknowledge it, but we borrow ideas and practices promiscuously and we imitate others with feverish abandon.

The book is titled I’ll Have What She’s Having: Mapping Social Behavior, and the authors are two leading anthropologists plus a marketing and communication consultant: Alex Bentley and Michael J. O’Brien are the anthropologists and Mark Earls the consultant on marketing and communication.

Let Me Entertain You

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

When we talk about how mass communication can be used to foster development effectiveness, what kind of communication are we talking about? Well, I would say that we often talk about information-centered mass communication – be it in political media or through other channels. Communication centered on facts and bits of information is certainly a wide-spread approach in development, but let’s think about communication that does not so much focus on facts, but on emotions and context.

#9: The Role of Social Norms in Achieving Behaviour Change

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on July 28, 2011

Recently I attended a course on social norms and social change organized by UNICEF at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Understanding how social norms affect change in practices and behaviours is becoming an increasingly ‘hot topic’ in development discourse, and rightly so I would add. In some of my previous blogs I’ve discussed how in many cases the failure to achieve expected results should be ascribed to technocratic solutions, which are not always understood and agreed upon with local communities. The lack of a clear understanding of the role and mechanisms of behaviour change has been responsible for many development failures. However, developing strict behaviour change strategies might also be not enough to promote change.

Community Leaders as Social Change Spearheaders

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Another interesting response to Paolo's post The Role of Social Norms in Achieving Behaviour Change:

"Being a development communication practitioner, I firmly believe that one has to tackle the shackles of harmful social norms from inside. That is, be part of the society, community where it exists, find the root cause, find the positive deviant, work with the deviant to understand what triggered the deviation and then generate discussions around it. This way the community trust is won and communication is free and open. It is the voices of authority (leaders, promoters, healers) from within the community who have to be mobilized and convinced to spearhead the movement of breaking a harmful social norm. It is human tendency to trust your own. The social pressure that this would generate actually results in shifting social norms. Plus, coming from within it also ensures maintenance of the new behavior.

The Role of Social Norms in Fighting Corruption

Johanna Martinsson's picture

A reader's response to Paolo's blog post The Role of Social Norms in Achieving Behaviour Change:

"Every individual is fashioned by the social norms of his/her community. This means that if there is any practice that is anti-developmental, the easiest way to tackle it is to enter from the behavioural angle. This is because habits once acquired die hard! As Paolo rightly said, it is not easy to achieve behavioural change because, the norms sustaining particular behaviours were allowed to become established due to the fact that they serve the interest of the establishment. If the practice of say, female genital  mutilation became an established tradition, it is because, the political authorities of those communities be them male or female drew certain advantages from the practice.

My observation on the "talk against corruption" in most African countries points to the fact that the regimes in place allowed corruption to germinate and become institutionalized because of its benefits. Having made corruption the norm and integrity the exception, it now becomes very difficult to effect behavioural change, especially amongst adults. In my own country, genuine anticorruption fighters are seen as abnormal persons because, the normal citizens ought to take advantage of the new culture where corruption is the norm.

Why Sound Technical Solutions Are Not Enough: Part II

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

Let us go back to the main theme of this blog: why sound technical solutions devised by top ranking technical experts and supported by plenty of resources from the richest countries have failed to deliver the expected results. A review of past experiences identified a number of causes for the failures of past approaches, but most of them appear to be traceable to one directly linked to communication/dialogue, or the lack of; i.e. the limited involvement of the so-called ‘beneficiaries’ in the decisions and the design of activities that concerned their lives. To sum up, lack of results in development initiatives due to people failing to adopt the prescribed behaviours were largely due to the neglect of the voices of those who were expected to adopt and live with such innovations and technical solutions.

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