Helping young people change their behaviour is seldom as straightforward as it seems.
You can’t do it by means of a good talking-to. Telling off doesn’t work.
Calmly setting out the sound reasoning behind the benefits of changing, and the dangers of not changing, doesn’t work well either. If life were that simple, none of us would ever act in ways that were contrary to our best interests. Which we all do, some of us frequently and repeatedly.
Research in recent years has developed some interesting and valuable insights into how people learn, develop and change. It suggests that what we do is led by “our very human, sociable, emotional and sometimes fallible brain”. Some of it is a statement of common sense, while other parts are surprising and counter-intuitive.
Many of the ideas here—including that quotation above—are explained in greater depth in Transforming Financial Behaviour: developing interventions that build financial capability, [link straight to pdf] published as Consumer Financial Education Body Consumer Research Report 01 CR01 in July 2010.
For short descriptions of key techniques, see the following:
- Picking the messenger
- Providing incentives
- Knowing social norms
- Using default behaviour
- Setting up feedback systems
- Making commitments and setting targets
- Timing interventions