Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

community vs. individual applications of ABA

In the future I don't know what I'll be but hopefully its something good...

Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is known for its ability to alter person behaviour. Popular applications range anywhere from reducing habits associated with autism, to day-to-day manipulation of people around you. The value of the ABA process however, should not be limited to the achievement of intervention goals or successful behavioural modification. Equally important is the descriptive analysis of the social problems and the processes that feed into the current undesired behaviour.

In the future I'm not sure exactly what I want to be, Im not even sure I will consciously make use of ABA principles. Conscious or not ABA does seem to be quite useful in profiling a target, and an area I feel this could be of use to is in social marketing. Things like getting people to respond behaviourally to PA messages instead of passively absorbing the message with no behavioural change. One of my main, I guess you could call 'life-goals' has always been to better the communities back home. And though Indonesia is fraught with numerous socio-economic and environmental difficulties, perhaps a simple step forward could be creating more affective PA messages that evoke greater behavioural responses from individuals. After all social media networks have become one of the leading sources of information for Indonesian people, and the most significant social changes have been through grass root initiation.

A problem that is quickly identified is the switch from individual targets to target communities. One way around this is to integrate the ABC model into another model that was designed to be implemented at community level – the social marketing process (Geller, 1989). A quick overview of the social marketing process and the ABC model reveals how an integration of this sort is possible. The main features of the social marketing process include:
1. market analysis (identification of campaign message)
2. market segmentation (identification of target audience)
3. marketing strategy (the actual campaign)
4. evaluation
What this process lacks perhaps is adequate understanding of what maintains current behaviours. This is where the ABC model can supplement in the market segmentation stage (for information on the details of the ABC model see Maag, 2001). By identifying the variables that feed and maintain current behaviour the social marketing strategy would be able to tackle these problems and subsequently produce a more tailored and hopefully influential campaign.

The descriptive analysis of target audiences is a key and usually trivialised feature of ABA. Though this information can be of great value in a number of contexts. A deeper understanding of the target's motivations and beliefs is always a good starting point to planning future responses. A number of studies have also begun to look into the significance such information in predicting future behavioural trends within a target population (Ouellette & Wood, 1998; Webb & Sheeran, 2006; Glasman & Albarracin, 2006).

Geller, E. S. (1989). Applied behavior analysis and social marketing: An integration for environmental preservation. Journal of Social Issues45(1), 17-36.

Glasman, L. R., & AlbarracĂ­n, D. (2006). Forming attitudes that predict future behavior: a meta-analysis of the attitude-behavior relation. Psychological bulletin132(5), 778.Glasman, L. R., & AlbarracĂ­n, D. (2006). Forming attitudes that predict future behavior: a meta-analysis of the attitude-behavior relation. Psychological bulletin132(5), 778.

Maag, J. W. (2001). Rewarded by punishment: Reflections on the disuse of positive reinforcement in schools. Exceptional children67(2), 173-186.

Ouellette, J. A., & Wood, W. (1998). Habit and intention in everyday life: the multiple processes by which past behavior predicts future behavior.Psychological bulletin124(1), 54.

Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence.Psychological bulletin132(2), 249.

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