How commitments can change behaviour

Date: 27/09/2016 Written by: Rosie 2 minutes to read.
Bitesize learning special

We may not be as pro-active as we like to think we are. We can sometimes try to aim for a goal, it might be getting your 5-a-day or clocking in your 10,000 steps for the day, but we might not put the necessary steps in place to sustain these behaviours. If we’re told that we need to change our behaviour, chances are a large number of us wouldn’t be able to change our behaviour in a sustainable way. But by getting people to commit you’re more likely to be successful in achieving change.

If we try to change our behaviours we might not necessarily know how to do this or what the first steps are or how to achieve the end goal. Commitments are there to help us avoid any pitfalls with our will-power. The more committed we are in achieving our goals, the more likely we are to achieve them. If breaking a commitment results in a big consequence, we are less likely to break this and continue working towards achieving our goals. A good example of commitments is goal-setting.

Goal setting is a technique used in behavioural interventions that allows individuals to set targets with smaller targets in between. Once milestones are reached, people are able to review their progress in achieving their goals and identify how they can improve their behaviour.

In a study to test how effective goal-setting was on increasing physical activity levels, participants were split up into control and experimental groups. The experimental group were provided with goals in order to increase physical activity levels and feedback sessions to review progress and goals while the control group did not get these sessions. The results found that goal-setting had a significant impact on attendance to the exercise classes and reduce drop-off rates.

Similar uses of this technique can help achieve stronger results when changing behaviour. Goal-setting is a great technique to embed in programmes and campaigns, from improving nutrition and diet, to physical activity and alcohol consumption.

Sober October is a great example of how goal-setting can be used. The overall aim is to go a month without drinking alcohol while fundraising. People who sign up to take part, soberheros, receive a “tick off” planner to help them keep track of their progress. This planner also gives them milestones where they are motivated to continue. This is a great little way to break up what could be perceived as a big ask for some and keep them on track with their commitment.

If you have a behaviour change project coming up and would like to find out how commitment techniques can be used effectively, contact a member of the team today!

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