Prediction and Behaviour Change

I’ve been reading an INSEAD Knowledge Newsletter article about some recent marketing research, investigating people’s predictions compared to their behaviours and it seems to be pointing in the following direction (the research is not yet completed):

If you ask people to predict how much they will do of a norm based behaviour (eg exercise, where there is a suggested standard like 3 x 20 minutes per week) and they are doing less than the norm, it will encourage them to do more.

If they are doing more than the norm, it will encourage them to do less.

If you ask people to predict un-normed behaviour, like going shopping, it will encourage them to do more.

This research project has interesting implications in various areas of interest.

1. Triathlon training over winter: If I start predicting how many times I will exercise this week, it may help to get me out the door, when the rain and cold are encouraging me to hibernate.

2. Management coaching: If we ask our employees to predict how often they will be able to demonstrate new behaviours, we may find they do more of them.

3. Minimising Global Warming: before norms develop to standardise how we should minimise global warming, we can start to self predict whether we will recycle, use less water (eg have shorter showers), turn off the lights this week, buy an energy-efficient car in the next year etc.

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