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Leveraging large-scale behavioural change interventions using social norms, civic culture, and installations. An analysis of classic interventions and new experiments to tackle social challenges

Yamin-Slotkus, Paulius (2020) Leveraging large-scale behavioural change interventions using social norms, civic culture, and installations. An analysis of classic interventions and new experiments to tackle social challenges. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004196


This thesis explores how interventions based on changing social norms can transform the behaviour of people and contribute to tackle social and policy challenges in real-world contexts. Specifically, it focuses on how a policy experience that had important and enduring effects in a large city (the civic culture interventions of Antanas Mockus in Bogotá, Colombia), could inform the application of more effective and sustainable interventions than those that are typically applied in the academic literature. To do this, three studies were conducted to explore (i) the intervention strategies and mechanisms that social norm interventions apply to achieve behavioural change (through a systematic review of over 90 field studies), (ii) the narratives through which different policy actors interpret and disseminate intervention messages (through narratives from citizens, the press and designers about Mockus’ most iconic intervention), and (iii) the way in which interventions that leverage social norms can reconfigure the physical, psychological and social layers of local installations (through two long-term experimental interventions to change driving behaviours among truck drivers). While typical social norm interventions in the academic literature tend to use easy-to-implement one-size-fits-all mechanisms (based mostly on giving group summary information to students remotely), our results illustrate the need and the potential of applying social norm interventions that: - Use strategically a wider range of intervention mechanisms that are closer to where behaviour actually happens and leverage social interactions - Reconfigure the local physical, psychological, and social determinants of behaviour in a way that is tailored to the target contexts and behaviours, creating collective selfreflections on participants and giving them tools for social regulation and change - Create engaging narratives around the behaviours and social expectations that must change, reframing social challenges and the agency of different actors around them Our findings offer indications of a valuable and cost-effective approach to behavioural and social norm change that promotes collective reflection, engagement and action (rather than boring instructions, prohibitions, punishments or automatic nudging), and that thus has a higher potential of achieving enduring large-scale transformations in complex challenges than other approaches that are common in policy and organizational settings. By offering insights into the orientation and practical techniques of these interventions, as well as discussing implications for both researchers and practitioners, we hope to inform more effective and sustainable interventions to tackle social challenges in the real world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Paulius Yamin Slotkus
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Lahlou, Saadi

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