Does money really change everything? Using financial incentives and disincentives to change health behaviours

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Financial Incentives, Incentives

Dr Jean Adams, Centre for Diet & Activity Research, University of Cambridge

Since October last year, by law, large retailers in England have been charging customers 5p (€0.06) for ‘single-use plastic carrier bags’ – those flimsy plastic bags you get from supermarkets to carry your groceries home. The money raised is donated by retailers to ‘good causes’. In the first six months of the scheme, plastic bag use by major supermarkets decreased by more than 90% (that’s 7bn fewer bags!) and more than £29m (€32m) was donated to good causes. It’s hard not to conclude that a small financial disincentive can have a big impact on our behaviour.

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Getting into the habit: Applying the science of habit-formation to the real-world

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Automaticity, Habit

By Benjamin Gardner, King’s College London

What is a ‘habit’?

Why do we eat popcorn while watching movies? The answer, for most, is that eating popcorn is a habitual response to watching movies. Psychologists define ‘habitual’ behaviours as actions that happen automatically, due to learned associations between situations (the movie theatre) and our responses to them (eating popcorn).

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