Limited education and information to change behavior

Why is making people aware by educating them is not enough? Communication for Change tries to answer this by exploring the factors that influence human behavior.

By Paramita Mohamad
May 29, 2020
Ramainya pasar dan pusat perbelanjaan menjelang Idulfitri membuat kita marah dan mempertanyakan kembali kepatuhan masyarakat terhadap pelaksanaan pembatasan sosial berskala besar (PSBB). Kita yang jengkel lantas menggerutu sambil bertanya, “Apa sih yang ada di pikiran mereka? Apa mereka tidak sadar bahwa kegiatan mereka tidak hanya mengancam diri mereka sendiri tapi juga orang lain?”

Pertanyaan ini muncul karena kita berasumsi bahwa seseorang atau kelompok tidak bertingkah laku tertentu karena mereka belum sadar tentang konsekuensi atau cara yang lebih benar, dan edukasi bisa memperbaikinya. Menurut kami asumsi ini keliru. Sebagai perusahaan yang telah menangani berbagai kampanye perubahan perilaku, menurut kami di Communication for Change kesadaran dan pemahaman (yang menjadi tujuan edukasi) hanyalah elemen kecil untuk mendorong perubahan perilaku.

Untuk berbagi pemahaman ini, kami menyelenggarakan sesi webinar untuk umum minggu lalu (20 Mei 2020). Artikel ini merangkum poin-poin diskusi yang telah kami bahas.

Mari kita berkaca dari perilaku kita sendiri
Did you know that we need to exercise at least 150 minutes every week to prevent degenerative diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease? Now, try to be honest with yourself: have you exercised to meet that minimum amount of time? Some data shows that only a small number of Indonesians over the age of 17 have this habit.

Let's focus on smoking habits for this session. Smokers likely know that smoking carries many risks of disease. So, why do so many people still smoke in Indonesia? In the context we will discuss, why are there still so many children under 17 years old who eventually start smoking (and then it becomes a habit)?

The Tobacco Atlas states that Indonesia is the third country with the largest number of smokers in the world and 41% of male teenagers aged 13-15 years are smokers.
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The Tobacco Atlas by CNN.
Many parties have made efforts to reduce the number of smokers in Indonesia. The following are several campaigns being run to achieve this:
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Poster bahaya merokok dari kampanya GERMAS.
communication strategy, communication consultant, CSO communication, non-profit communication, communication training, NGO communication, communication for change
Stop smoking remember the dangers by Indonesia Baik
Do the campaigns above encourage minors in Indonesia not to start smoking?

Now, let's compare these advertisements with a campaign entitled TRUTH, a campaign program to reduce the number of teenage smokers in the United States sponsored by a civil society organization (not the government).

The first advertisement entitled Body Bags shows how 1,200 people die every day from smoking by placing 1,200 body bags in front of the office of a cigarette company.
Apart from body bags, TRUTH also launched another campaign with a theatrical action of 1,200 people simultaneously falling in front of the United States cigarette company building.
TRUTH di not stop with the depiction of 1,200 people who die every day because of smoking, they also launched another advertisement entitled Replacement Smokers. This advertisement uses mannequins to illustrate how cigarette companies need to recruit new, young smokers to replace smokers who die from various diseases.
After completion and effectiveness measurements, the campaign was successful in preventing 456,231 teenagers in the US from smoking.
Video of a study on measuring the effectiveness of the TRUTH campaign by RTI International.
What makes it effective? In our opinion, this campaign is effective precisely because it does not focus on educating or providing information, but targets the emotional side and social identity of young people. How could that be? To understand how behavior change can occur, let's first understand the elements of a person's behavior.

Human behavior from a psychological perspective
Inspired by Newton's laws of mechanics, Aline Holzwarth , an expert in applied health behavior science, sees human behavior in terms of the following two laws (actually there are three, but two are relevant here):
Tiga hukum perilaku menurut Aline Holzwarth dari Behavioral Economic
First, behavior change will follow the status quo, unless there are changes in barriers and incentives. According to Holzwarth, the default condition for human behavior is to live in the status quo, for example following habits or carrying out social norms.

Holzwarth saw that humans will only move to leave the status quo if friction or resistance or fuel arises . Without changes in these two things, humans will continue to follow habits or comply with dominant social norms.

Second, behavior is the result of the interaction of personality and environment.According to Holzwarth, human behavior does not occur in a vacuum. Behavior (B) is a combination of two main factors, namely personality (P) and environment (E). Personality refers to a person's internal tendencies such as traits , intelligence, and various things that are categorized as "preferences" in economics.

Meanwhile, the environment is a person's external things, both in social aspects such as the behavior of the people around him, regulations, social norms and physical aspects such as infrastructure, temperature, density, etc.

Based on this law, human behavior can be seen in the elephant-driver-passage metaphor. An elephant can weigh up to 6 tonnes, while the average driver only weighs 60kg. The elephant is the dominant party among these three because it can easily win disputes with the driver. However, elephants will also not be able to move if there are obstacles in their path.

In this metaphor, the coachman represents the rational and intentional aspects of our behavior. The driver signals when and in which direction the elephant should go. Meanwhile, the elephant represents the status-quo (see Law 1 above) and the emotional-motivational side of behavior. An elephant that encourages someone to want or get used to doing something. Trajectory is an environmental aspect. The existence of incentives or inhibitors in the environment can also determine whether the behavior will take place or not.
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The elephant-driver-passage metaphor.
Applying emotional aspects in behavior change campaigns
The implication of the explanation above is that to change human behavior, often the most important aspect that needs to be changed is the emotional aspect and not awareness or insight. In relation to the TRUTH campaign example above, they took an emotional approach to changing smoking behavior. They were not focused on the driver, but on the elephant.

Smoking among teenagers tends to be seen as behavior that reflects rebellion and rebellious teenagers are cool teenagers. On the other hand, not smoking is seen as a rule-abiding behavior and people who obey the rules are not cool. We can see this from various popular culture references which feature main characters with rebellious characters as smokers.

The TRUTH campaign seeks to change this perception. What if not smoking was seen as a rebellious behavior? And rebel against whom? Some time before the Body Bag advertisement was designed, major cigarette companies in the US had just been sentenced to pay huge damages because they were proven to have covered up scientific findings about the dangers of cigarettes as an addictive substance. This fact inspired the advertisement, which then presented the cigarette companies that profit from their products that kill 1,200 people every day as parties worth fighting against.
The elephant-driver metaphor is one approach that C4C always uses in designing social change campaigns. We also discuss this method in the training we hold entitled Campaign for Social Change . This class will help you to develop a communication strategy for behavior change in stages, from determining goals, choosing an approach, to creating creative execution of your campaign.

If you are further interested in learning to create change through communication, you can take this class which will be held shortly: here.

Before finishing: if you still have further questions about behavior change and communication campaigns in order to change policies or community behavior, please ask via our Twitter @C4C_ID by including #AskC4C.
Paramita Mohamad
Written by
CEO and Principal Consultant of Communication for Change. We work with those who want to make Indonesia suck less, by helping them get buy-in and make changes.

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