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Choosing a target behaviour

How to choose a target behaviour by considering the results of the a behaviour change energy use programme carried out in Australia.

The TRED programme identified many different behaviours in the home environment that influenced the amount of energy that is used.

It wouldn’t be practical to develop behaviour change interventions to change each of these behaviours. The next step therefore is to narrow down the possible behaviours to those that are easiest to change and likely to lead to your goal. It is a good idea to start with one behaviour at a time and then select others as you make progress with it. If you are too ambitious and try to do too much too quickly, the chances are that you won’t make as much progress as if you take one step at a time. Evidence has shown that ‘building on small successes’ is an effective strategy.

After you have identified the behaviours that you think could be relevant to achieving your goal, the next step is to compare them to decide which is likely to be the ‘best’ one to choose i.e. the one that is most likely to help you achieve your goal.

To do this, it is helpful to ask yourself three questions:

  1. If I were to change this behaviour, how likely would it be to have an impact on my goal?
  2. How easy will the behaviour be to change? i.e. what is the likelihood of change?
  3. If I change this behaviour, will it have ‘spillover’ effects on other behaviours, that is make other behaviours more or less likely to change in a positive direction?

Judging impact, likelihood and spillover can be completed in different ways. For example, you could rate each behaviour as ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ on each dimension, or use a numerical rating system (e.g. a 1 to 5 scale where ‘1’ represents no impact and ‘5’ represents very high impact).

Ratings can be carried out by a range of people who have direct experience or understand the behaviour and context. This could include but is not limited to; researchers, experts, or people with direct experience of the behaviour.

In the following activity, we will show you how to rate impact, likelihood and spillover to help you make your decision as to which behaviour to target in the first instance.

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Behaviour Change Interventions: Introductory Principles and Practice

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