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More about behaviour 

  • Julie de Vaan

Effectively changing behaviour with our Behavioural Maps

Updated: Jul 26

What is a Behavioural Map, and what makes it so valuable to apply in practice?


With every choice we make, a lot happens in our head. There are all kinds of psychological processes behind our behaviour, of which we are usually unaware. Easily said, we have a whole network of 'buttons' in our head. The way these buttons are pushed at the moment we are making choices, determines which choices we eventually make.


There is no such thing as an on or off switch for behaviour. That makes changing behaviour effectively and in the long term complicated. It is important to know how choices are made, which buttons are important, and how to push them right in a specific situation to get people to make certain choices.


To make this more easy, we develop Behavioural Maps. They make psychological knowledge and behavioural science more clear, understandable and applicable. In this article, we will explain what a Behavioural Map is, and what makes it so valuable when applying knowledge about behavioural change in practice.


What is a Behavioural Map?

A Behavioural Map is actually a summary of everything you have to know about the way our behaviour is determined. It is a simplified representation of the processes in our head.


A Behavioural Map shows how choices are made, provides an overview of all buttons that influence these choices, and how you can steer or influence these choices. Easier said, a Behavioural Map shows you everything you have to take into account if you want to influence people's choices in your situation.


Behavioural Map - Behavioural change, Behavioural science - How to change behaviour

Here you can see (a part of) a Behavioural Map. Each colored route represents a different way in which choices are made, and shows which buttons are important. To change behaviour, you want to push these buttons right to stimulate people to show certain behaviour. How? That depends on the situation.


What makes a Behavioural Map valuable to apply in practice?

To really change behaviour, you have to push as many buttons as possible in as many situations as possible. This can be done by using Behavioural Maps as a starting point or as input for your policies and actions on different sustainability topics like the environment, health or well-being. A Behavioural Map can help you by providing directions, guidance and structure to your long term plans, because it gives you insight in which buttons you already push to stimulate sustainable behaviour, and which buttons need some extra attention in future plans.


Besides that, a Behavioural Map also helps you to quickly and easily set up or optimize effective ideas and actions, because they directly show you how choices are made in your situation, and what you should do to effectively change behaviour. Do you want to make certain business processes more sustainable? Develop a campagne to stimulate more sustainable choices? Or create a certain environment that evokes sustainable behaviour? With a Behavioural Map, you will know exactly what you should do to effectively change your target audience's behaviour. This way, you can also prevent spending lots of time and energy into actions that only push the same (or the wrong) buttons.


So, how do Behavioural Maps help to effectively change behaviour?

Behavioural Maps offer guidance and support with knowledge from behavioural science and behavioural change. They are useful for direct concrete actions, as well as for long term plans. They make sure you know what you have to do to effectively change behaviour. And they make sure that your actions align to each other, build up on each other, are well-founded and more appealing to others. They save you time and energy you will not spend on actions that will not work in the long term. By using Behavioural Maps as the basis (or as input) for your sustainability plans and actions, you can continue to do what you do, but more effectively, because you take people's behaviour into account.

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