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Tori Flower is Creative Director of Shift (formerly We Are What We Do), a behaviour change organisation that designs products for social change. She also set the RSA Student Design Awards 'Everyday Well-being' brief in 2013-14 and 'The Daily Diet' brief this year. In a series of seven short blogs aimed at student designers released each day this week, she shares her insights into how to approach designing for behaviour change.


Behaviour change and student designers

There is now an explosion of students using their creativity to design solutions that change behaviour and tackle social problems. They are coming from postgrad programmes in social innovation like Year Here or On Purpose; design courses offering new types of briefs such as the MA in Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries at Central Saint Martins, MA Service Design at the Royal College of Art and MDes Design Innovation at the Glasgow School of Art; nationwide student competitions such as the RSA’s Student Design Awards and the D&AD's White Pencil; and social enterprise societies (and even companies) within academic universities without design faculties, such as Imperial Innovations and King’s College London’s partnership with UnLtd.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in many of these. Students often asked me how to approach designing interventions aimed at changing behaviour, so I thought I’d put in one place some of the main resources that I usually point people towards, good examples from the industry and some lessons learnt from seeing lots of student work.

A caveat: this isn’t a comprehensive guide - just a few tips I hope you find useful.


What is behaviour change?

Behaviour change focuses on the connection between the actions of individuals and problems facing society (including health, environmental or social issues). Behaviour change interventions encompass a broad range of activities, campaigns, products, services, legislation and other approaches which have been designed to shift the behaviour of individuals, in order to either discourage negative actions, which are having a detrimental effect on these issues, or encourage positive ones.



Change 4 Life: A government funded initiative

 Change 4 Life

This nation-wide government funded programme was designed to get the public to “Eat well, move more, live longer”. It includes communications campaigns in print, TV and radio at a national and local level, a website with practical tips, resources and games, plus fitness events and the promotion of fruit and veg in local stores, all under the Change4Life brand.


4SANITATION: A student idea

This idea from Oliver Brunt won an RSA Student Design Award in 2014. 4SANITATION is a frugally designed hygiene pack for use in refugee camps, designed to encourage people to use different soaps in different situations to reduce disease spread. It consists of 4 ultra-condensed, long life soap blocks, colour coded for use in different scenarios, such as before preparing food and after using the toilet.


Box Chicken: An initiative by Shift

Our mobile healthy fast food outlets are an intervention designed to tackle poor diets amongst young people. They are located near secondary schools and fast food shops and provide access to tasty, affordable, healthy food.


In my next blog... I’ll explain how to get started when designing a behaviour change intervention and share my first tip: Identify the Actor, Action, Outcome.


>> Read the other blogs in this series:



>> Find out more about the RSA Student Design Awards

>> Find out more about Shift


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