Learning by doing – a good prompt to behaviour change

Oct 16, 2012

The wholly grail in our business is prompting behavior change.  Let’s just say it’s not easy.

If you have read our White Paper on the Stages of Communication, then you are familiar with our approach to behavior change communication.  Basically, we embrace the idea that getting someone’s interest must precede increasing their awareness and understanding, and that these stages are necessary to prompt action.

An effective way to attract attention and prompt a desired behavior is to give people a way to interact with your topic and, if it’s possible, make it interesting and fun.  In our ongoing work into promoting action, or a desired behavior, we’ve experienced some smart examples of how interactive options, in the physical form rather than the online form, take people from interest to action in warp speed.

A Canadian example, which encourages outdoor activity, is an interactive installation in Montreal from Daily Tour la Jour.  The installation is intended to get people working together, but it also has a side benefit of getting people moving.  This large swing set is unlike any other because when each swing is set in motion it plays a musical note.  The more people swinging, the more likely they are to create music together.

We should thank our colleague Amy Gaskill at the US Environmental Protection Agency for pointing us to this next one.  Referred to as a Fun Theory, this Volkwagen initiative proposes that something simple and fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.  The Piano Stairs Project demonstrates how  turning public staircases into life-size piano keys, complete with the appropriate audio reinforcement for each stair, or in this case key, encourages and rewards the choice to take the stairs instead of the escalator.

Now, imagine the Piano Stairs Project including information about the benefits of taking the stairs and some extra information on heart health while you play. Maybe we will take our stages of communication paradigm and turn it upside down to explore what happens when you use a desired behavior to facilitate an opportunity to increase someone’s awareness and understanding.

Now I want to get on one of these swings and see what I can create.


About Sharon Stevens

Sharon Stevens is the owner and CEO of Airshift Group. Email Sharon Stevens

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