In a number of my workshops and presentations I’ve used the example of some research into the power of harnessing social norms to drive energy efficiency. And also how these same norms can have unexpected rebound effects. In preparation of a workshop I’m running in a few weeks’ time I came across Alex Laskey’s fantastic talk on the subject. Well worth a watch—he does a fantastic job of explaining how it all works and what they’ve found.
Tim Cotter writes in his latest “Awake” newsletter on “Do positive messages lead to more positive outcomes?”, which looks at the efficacy of positive and negative messaging in relation to behaviour change. I’ve read a lot of different articles that talk about the “loss aversion bias” and many others on how positive messaging can achieve better results, and wondered about the two.
The up-shot is “it depends” — primarily where the person is on their change journey.
Are we primarily trying to draw attention to the issue, or get already-concerned people into action? If we apply Obermiller’s observations to the bypass patients mentioned earlier, it is clear that the people in question were already painfully aware of the seriousness of the issues. So the positive approach to getting them into action was successful because it worked on motivating and supporting them to act.
Tim concludes by saying “These findings also highlight the importance of doing sound research before committing effort and resources to behaviour change initiatives.” Couldn’t agree more — that’s certainly our approach…
(Oh, and I recommend subscribing to Tim’s newsletter, which is available on his website.)
I have to say, the quality of the presentations was impressive — one of the best conferences I’ve been to in recent years based on the amount that I took away from the sessions there. While the calibre overall was high, standout sessions for me were:
- Kim Goodwin’s Experience Leadership opening keynote definitely set the scene for a lot of the talks I saw, many of which contained elements of organisational change. It was great to see some of the key theories of organisational change mentioned, as well as picking up a few new (for me) pointers as well.
- Helen Palmer’s Managing Change as a Designed Experience talk was entertaining and energising — no small feat given it was at the end of the day. A novel and interactive presentation approach was a fantastic way to dive into a successful organisational change project.
- Martin Tomisch’s
case study on the Neighbourhood Scoreboards research project was awesome — great concept, well executed, interesting learnings.
- Jon Kolko’s presentation on Personality, Discursion and Disruption was a great way to end the conference from my perspective — touching on the deeper purpose and meaning of design, a topic that regular readers will know is close to my heart.
- While the subject matter wasn’t directly relevant to my work environments, I was fascinated by Michelle and Vicki’s talk on UX Design in a Surgical Environment. (The random images of cute animals — oh look, puppies! — in between surgical images was a nice touch).
- The “Switching on my ears” case study, presented by Matt Morphett, Shane Morris and Rami Banna also provided an excellent insight into some of the challenges of designing for devices.
And while I missed them, the buzz was that Bob Burns’ ‘A Market of the Senses’ and Ben Kraal’s case study on designing airport security were also ones to catch.