Behaviour change

Behaviour change is one of the primary functions of government communications – helping change and save lives, helping the government to run more effectively as well as save taxpayer’s money.

Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communications said

“Behaviour change is fundamental to all government communications, regardless of discipline”

Use our guidance to set more effective and audience-centred communication activities.

What is a behaviour

A behaviour is not a culture shift, a social norm, a change in attitude or increased awareness. While these may offer a route to behaviour change, they are not the ultimate outcome.

A behaviour is an observable action.

Video: What is behavioural science?

Video length: 2 minutes 37 seconds (on YouTube)

Video: What is behavioural science? Duration: 2 minutes 38 seconds

Types of behaviour change

Behaviour change can take many forms. You could be encouraging your audience to:

  • adopt new positive behaviours, such as regular exercise or attending internal training courses
  • stop negative behaviours, such as drink driving or posting harmful content on social media
  • maintain or increase existing positive behaviours, such as paying your tax on time or remaining opted into your workplace pension
  • reduce existing negative behaviours, such as drinking less alcohol or taking fewer short car journeys
  • refrain from adopting new negative behaviours, such as breaching security regulations or becoming involved in knife crime

Resources for government communicators

This guide sets out how to adopt a behavioural approach to ensure your communications is strategic: