4 Ways to Change Behaviour

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There are 4 ways to change people’s behaviour:

The first is the stick:

Beat people until they do what you want. The stick works, but people hate being controlled, they will rebel — sooner or later. Repression is not a great strategy.

The second is the carrot:

Provide an incentive. Incentives work beautifully, until you remove them. Then the behaviour stops — why would any sane donkey keep on working once the carrot is gone?

The third is the book:

Educate people, tell them all the reasons why they should change their behaviour. Give them the facts and figures. Expect them to do the rational thing. Unfortunately people don’t pay too much attention to books — especially if they are telling them to stop smoking.

The fourth is the crowd:

First find one person to change, then a couple of their friends, then an opinion former or two will pick up on the idea, then somebody in the local pub and then Mrs S from down the road. Before you know it nearly everybody is following the crowd. Nobody likes to stand out from it.

Behavioural change isn’t rational

It comes in fits and starts, smoulders, follows connections, then spreads like fire.

If you really want to change behaviour, use the power of the crowd.

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Image by Fovea Centralis

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.

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