Tag Archives: behaviour change theory series

Behaviour change theory: structural factors

This post looks at structural factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory, a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us, and a look at how social context can affect behaviour.

The structure of life
Our lives take place within certain structural and practical contexts. This can be defined narrowly as the ‘choice environment’, i.e. the immediate context in which we make decisions, or broadly as the whole material infrastructure within which our lives take place. Read more

Behaviour change theory: social factors

This post looks at social factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory and a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us.

Social creatures
As well as being influenced by our own psychological make-up, our behaviour is deeply influenced by social context. This is true both on a small scale, in terms of being affected by what others think and do, and on a large scale in terms of the norms and practices that dominate a society. Read more

Behaviour change theory: psychological factors

Following on from last week’s introductory post on behavioural theory, here’s a summary of some of the individual-level factors that influence whether people do green things or not.

Rational beings?
In standard neoclassical economics, people are seen as self-interested, rational beings who weigh up the costs and benefits of various actions, and proceed accordingly. While people do sometimes act rationally in their own self-interest, this model has been criticised for failing to take into account many of the psychological, social and contextual factors that also affect our behaviour.

Behavioural economists, for example, argue that we do many things automatically and are often guided by psychological and social biases. This approach forms the basis of the 2010 Institute for Government MINDSPACE report, and for the popular book Nudge, both of which have had some influence on the government’s response to the challenge of pro-environmental behaviour change. Read more

Behaviour change theory: an introduction

Why do we live in draughty houses, drive gas-guzzling cars, or throw plastic bottles in the rubbish bin?

As part of my research last year, I put together a summary of some of the key drivers of human behaviour that relate to sustainable living, drawing on a range of different disciplines from behavioural economics to sociology. This wasn’t published as part of our final policy report, so I’m going to post it here over the course of three blog posts. Read more