collective voice

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Changing transport behaviours

September 9, 2016 14:08

The problem: In the UK each year, 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Local authorities are now expected to encourage active travel (such as walking, cycling and public transport) and a shift away from using cars for short journeys.

ICE recently partnered with a council who wanted to reduce air pollution within their locality by promoting active travel amongst people who use their cars for short journeys, such as for the school run. In particular, the local authority was interested in understanding why people chose to use their cars for short school runs so that they could create a campaign which would encourage them to change.

What did we do? ICE conducted insight groups with parents and grandparents who use their car for the school run, to explore why they use the car currently and to help the local authority to understand what will make 'people like them' change.

Why do people use cars for the school run? Using the car to take kids to school was perceived to be easier and more convenient than other transport options. Getting kids to school on time in the mornings is stressful and driving was seen as a way to maintain control over the situation - with kids happier to take the car, less likely to misbehave and more likely to be on time for school.

“It’s to make sure you get there on time, because 9 times out of 10 you’re either late getting up or the kids won’t eat their breakfast so it’s one mad rush in the morning.”

“I feel good that I’m dropping her off to school…at least I know she gets there.”

Other methods of transport were generally perceived negatively as being not safe, not as convenient and more expensive than driving. Together, this contributed to a perception that driving was the only option that they had.

Yet…

When asked to describe their morning school run, parents were overwhelmingly negative, describing the morning school run as being: “hectic”, a “nightmare”, a “rush”, “chaos”, “crazy” and “stressful”.

For one parent, the school run was only a 5 minute journey, yet it took them 10-15 minutes to park. This inconvenience and wasted time was, however, discounted when compared to the perceived convenience of taking the car.

A clear disconnect emerged between parents’ perception of using the car for the school run and their lived experience of doing so.

This disconnect needs to be addressed to help parents to see that other methods of travel are less stressful than the realities of using the car. Routine behaviours, such as mode of daily travel, are deeply embedded in our lives. People will, therefore, tend not to weigh up the positives and negatives before making a journey and so may assume the car is more convenient, when in reality that might not be the case.

What would we recommend based on this insight? From the insight we gained, ICE would recommend a campaign which aims to get parents to ‘leave the car at home’, with a focus on kids getting healthy and physically active. Although the overall aim would be to reduce levels of air pollution, this was not a salient issue with the target audience and so messaging around air pollution may not change their behaviour, whereas parents had been influenced by messaging about health and physical activity of their children in the past.

Any campaign messaging should address the disconnect between perceived and actual experience of taking the car. Importantly, by taking part in the campaign, parents will begin to see the benefits of other modes of transport for themselves.

Our insights told us that kids can influence their parents' behaviour, so a campaign which uses ‘pester power’ (kids pestering their parents) could be effective. Competition, rewards and the idea of a challenge could be a good way to engage both kids and their parents.

The insights told us that schools would be a good messenger for the campaign, because it would make the campaign seem official and schools could communicate both with kids and their parents.

Finally, the insights suggested that a campaign which focuses on people making a small change, such as using the car for the school run in the morning but not the evening, could help to make other transport behaviours normal and routine.

For more information, contact Dr Emma Mackley on 0151 647 4700 or at emma.mackley@icecreates.com

Alcohol - using behavioural insights to change behaviour

July 18, 2016 10:42

Research question: How can local authorities reduce alcohol consumption and increase the number of alcohol free days for 18-25 year old females?

ICE recently partnered with a council that has high chronic liver disease mortality rates for females, as well as an increased proportion of young people who drink alcohol. Continuing this trend will lead to increased mortality for females in the borough. The local authority also wanted to reduce serious alcohol related consequences such as hospitalisations, anti-social behaviour and sexual assault.

Research techniques: ICE conducted insight groups, one-to-one interviews and ethnographic daily diary exercises. The use of clean language and projective techniques allowed our researchers to tap into the attitudes, values, beliefs and emotions that drive young women's drinking behaviours and decision making.

Key behavioural insights: Owing largely to a national public awareness campaign ('Know your limits', Home Office, 2006), 18-25 year old women define responsible drinking as drinking to their own perceived limit. They use this limit as the upper bounds of what is responsible drinking and they define “too much” alcohol as drinking beyond this limit.

I think responsible drinking is something like knowing your limits.”

Whilst this may sound sensible, when ICE researchers explored this further and asked the young women to describe how they knew they had drunk too much alcohol, they described a physical and emotional state that suggests they were highly intoxicated and vulnerable (unable to speak, falling over and feeling sick/vomiting), which would likely increase the risk of experiencing serious negative consequences such as hospitalisation and sexual assault.

So it’s over the edge and you start to lose kind of most senses, and you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Importantly, the young women did know a number of drink protective behavioural strategies (drink water, space drinks, swap a single for a double, don’t mix drinks). They know the desired behaviour change, however, they apply it reactively and too late.

How is ICE using these behavioural insights to change behaviour? 

A key finding of this study was that the young women used a series of visual cues to self-identify if they had drunk too much.

You start losing, like, your eyesight and stuff. Stuff goes blurry.”

ICE has designed a series of behavioural nudges (e.g. blurred images in toilet mirrors) that will be employed in situ at pubs and clubs to use young women’s unconscious thoughts and nudge them to self-identify that they may be approaching their limit, thus enabling them to apply drink protective behavioural strategies more proactively.

Because we rarely use rational decision making processes when deciding when and how much to drink (we do it because it’s fun, relaxing and social), strategies that appeal to such rational decision making (including those that focus on the serious negative consequences of drinking) are unlikely to have a significant impact on reducing how much and how frequently young women drink alcohol.

Working with young women’s unconscious thoughts and feelings and nudging them towards self-identifying that they have reached their limit provides a novel way to change this maladaptive behaviour and helps to reduce incidences of serious negative consequences of drinking alcohol.

For more information, contact Dr Adam Moore on 0845 5193 423 or at adam.moore@icecreates.com

Carers - one of society's greatest hidden assets

June 8, 2016 09:46

Social isolation is defined as a complete or near-complete lack of contact with people and society.

Owing to its profound negative impact on health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation is a key priority for many local authorities.

We recently explored the experiences of carers to:

  • Understand the causes of social isolation for carers
  • Identify what carers need to prevent or manage social isolation
  • Explore the wider impacts of caring responsibilities.

Read more:

Insight Research - Social Isolation in Carers Case Study