IMA's 40th Year: The Year of Behaviour Change

IMA's 40th Year: The Year of Behaviour Change

This year is IMA’s 40th year! To recognize this milestone, we have chosen to focus on something we feel is critical for our collective future – behaviour change.  This is something really important to me, I practice a martial art, Ryu Shin Ken, and the group I am a part of see martial arts as a means to help transform yourself physically and mentally, via dedicated and consistent practice.  Alongside this personal behaviour change, I am also a trustee of Swarm Dynamics, a charity that seeks to inspire people towards cultural and systemic change for a sustainable future.  So, from a personal to a more cultural level, Behaviour Change is very close to my heart. 

"Every environmental challenge has one thing

in common.  To solve them, someone,

somewhere has to start behaving differently" 

Source: RARE - The Centre for Behaviour and the Environment.

Behaviour change is a huge topic and an integral part of many sectors and there are countless books, approaches, definitions, and ideas to explore.  Here, I am going to provide a small insight into behavioural science which connects psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience, to explore human behaviours. Human behaviour in this context can be thought of as our actions and the decisions made that lead to these actions.  These decisions are driven by what motivates us, and are closely connected to our values, which in turn are often influenced by our cultural norms.   

Behavioural science can be applied at the personal or ‘micro’ level, through to a higher political, or ‘macro’ level – from awareness to action. 

The levels of behaviour change. Micro, to Meso, to Macro.
The levels of behaviour change. Micro, to Meso, to Macro.

So how can we encourage behaviour change?  On a personal level, short-term actions show little change – it takes repeated conscious decisions and motivation to make a long-term change – which is exactly what my martial arts training is all about!  In general, people prefer to stick to the familiar, so there are many challenges to overcome for real and sustainable behaviour change to take place.  However, we also know that our brains can re-organise themselves – new experiences can change the way our brains are wired, and this is a universal human trait. Change is possible, we just need to select the right approach in different contexts. 

We can find entry points to encourage behaviour change from the micro, meso, or macro level, using approaches such as Human Centred Design; Heuristics or Nudging; using the arts or storytelling; and there are emergent new digital solutions. When we start to look, there are ideas everywhere.  Throughout IMA’s year of Behaviour Change we will share and explore  stories and ideas on this subject - and we would love to hear your thoughts too…

by Leigh Dowsett Senior Consultant & Research Manager

Find out more

Find out more about Behaviour Change on our Theory of Change in Practice open course.

Keep updated on our Year of Behaviour Change by signing up to our Newsletter.

Related Resources and Useful Links

Busara Center for Behavioural Economics – (re align WEIRD problems) 

RARE: Center for Behaviour and the Environment 

The Human Behaviour Change Project

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