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Behavioural Change

As a sociologist, I have always been aware of human motivations and have spent much of my career in applying this to improving society. My first job was working for the Institute of Mechanical Engineers to encourage girls to sign up for careers in engineering and most recently research into how to address the increase in women drunk drivers. which can be found here.


The good news is that there is a growing body of knowledge on how to achieve behavioural change and many infrastructure projects now require evidence of social value gain. But this is relatively recent and my current focus is on developing ways of integrating this knowledge into better outcomes. 

Addressing misconceptions

Parking – encouraging public transport to events

Stemming for research for Docklands Light Railway (DLR) a poster campaign depicting local people was used to address the mistaken view that there were no staff on the train. Other research showed that ‘mental maps’ had little perception of reasons for travel between north and south of the River Thames so trips targeting expanded employment and shopping opportunities were organised. In both cases, the results were increased use of the DLR by local people.

At Bolton football ground coach and bus parking places were furthest from the stadium – the subliminal message being that private cars were ‘better’ than public transport.


Changing this around resulted in increased use of public transport. We are currently using similar approaches to influence a wider range of parking systems including at universities and hospitals.

Neighbourhood Games

In Worcestershire, a card game for discussion about how to reduce carbon was designed and sent to people to ‘play’ with small groups of neighbours. Their conclusions along with reasons were sent back to the Council. Other ‘games’ were designed for preferred methods of paying for roads and the introduction of lower traffic speeds (see here). In all cases, the experience of role-playing and hearing the views of others encouraged both opinion and behavioural change.

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