OPINION7 November 2022

Best behaviour: Common behavioural science mistakes

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Behavioural economics Opinion Trends

As behavioural science grows in popularity, Crawford Hollingworth examines some of the common errors made when trying to solve behavioural challenges.

black and white image of two woman smiling and laughing

Behavioural change is not easy; we make errors or assumptions. With the widespread and growing application of behavioural science, it’s worth stepping back to look at some of the common errors in trying to solve behavioural challenges.

In a recent article, scientists Michael Kelly and Mary Barker analysed what they see as the six most common errors and mistakes in behaviour change in a health context. It’s easy to see that these are also present in other contexts.

By grouping the six errors into three areas, we can illustrate each one and set out the implications, exploring the mindset and approaches that behavioural change practitioners should adopt.

Not taking an evidence-based approach

Over-reliance on common sense and intuition: We often have a strong feeling that we intuitively know how to change someone’s behaviour: we just need to use common sense. The impulse to act, based only on our own or peer-related anecdotal experience, is powerful. Adopting a science-led and ...