Behavioural Interventions Meta-Analysis

So I’m generally interested in how you change behaviour. I think having the tools to do that for yourself is massively empowering, and as long as it’s used for the “right” ends, then it can be very socially impactful. (Of course it depends how you define the “right” ends and that is a whole other question – and I think one that needs lots of democratic input, caution and criticism).

Whist propaganda has been around for a while, there’s been an explosion of behavioural interventions in recent years, partly thanks to enabling technologies (particularly to do with measurement) and partly thanks to pushes at high levels (e.g. by the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team). So what works? On the to-do list is a forced-rank list of intervention types for behavioural change projects so that we can compare different types of intervention on the same metric.  The idea is inspired John Hattie’s work on education – Hattie combined meta-analyses on different types of educational interventions e.g. involving the teacher, the student, the home, curriculum etc and converted all of the meta-analyses into effect sizes on educational attainment that could be compared. Hattie’s work has been a 15-year project so doing the equivalent for behavioural change interventions (which are much less well-defined) may take a while! But I’ve started compiling a list of meta-analyses focusing on behavioural change. Let me know if you have studies to add! And thanks to James Norris @ Design Lab, Stanford for suggesting the idea.

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