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To Change Behavior, First Change Your Message | Impatient Optimists


Stashed in: Economics!, Change, Psychology!, HumanNature, Give and Take, Philanthropy

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The fact is that getting anyone to change his or her ways is a hard task. Presenting people with information about why something is a good decision has almost never been a successful strategy for behavior change. 

 If we don’t work with the ways people actually think and behave then even the most wonderful nutritional innovations won’t benefit those they are meant to help

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Using some of the behavioral economics principles we’d talked about at the workshop, HarvestPlus came up with an interesting idea: host a lottery to determine in advance who, in a group of farmers, would get the beans or plantings each year. 

This way, the “paying it forward” would not be abstract. The farmers would know exactly who they need to give the beans to and who they’d hurt by reneging on their promise. On top of that, they could carry out a socially salient celebration at the time of exchange to make the contract not just between two individuals but a part of the whole social group. HarvestPlus also wanted to add a chart to indicate who was on duty for the bean redistribution. That marker would let everyone know who was supposed to do what, at all times.

From what we know about human behavior, these changes to the marketplace are likely to be more effective than simply asking the farmers to give back some of their beans.

People change when they realize deeply how something affects them.

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