Human behaviour is a very complex area. This document draws on key sources from the disciplines of social psychology, economics and behavioural economics (where the first two disciplines overlap). We have sought to distil this information into some key factors that are important to consider for anyone developing communications that seek to influence behaviour, and to develop a framework for applying these factors to the development of a communications strategy.

In this document

What influences people’s behaviour?

This section outlines some of the key factors that influence behaviour. It draws on a range of social psychological theories and includes three examples of behavioural models. The section also gives an overview of the key principles of behavioural economics and of the best known theories of change. Case studies provide a practical illustration of how models and theories have been used to inform government communications.

Embedding behavioural theory

A five-step framework shows how, by increasing our understanding of behaviour, behavioural theory can help to define the role for communications and build a communications model. The Department of Health’s Tobacco Control campaign is used to show how each step of the process might work in practice. The section concludes with a summary of the steps and a series of questions designed to stimulate thinking at each stage.

Conclusions and future implications

This section lists the main conclusions emerging from the report, then goes on to consider some of the key implications for communicators.

Next steps

Finally, this section suggests some areas for future discussion aimed at embedding behaviour change theory in communications development.


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Taken from: COI Website. As my thesis focused upon the posters produced by the Ministry of Information in the Second World War, and the MOI became the COI, I am really interested in this report, particularly as this report focuses upon behavioural change, which was one of the indicators I was looking for within my thesis, although I was not using specific behavioural theories, that was a line I’ve become interested in developing, as I am really interested in a longitudinal study of government publicity, with a particular interest in health campaigns – and have been chatting to Beyond Chocolate about some of the research they have done.

See press release if interested in getting involved.

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