How do you encourage residents to save more? Can you motivate employees to live more healthily? And how do you reduce the amount of waste on the streets? Human behaviour is central to all these questions. The Behavioural Insights Group Rotterdam (BIG'R), an impact centre of the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, helps municipalities, companies and organizations to apply behavioural knowledge to solve these kinds of issues. Dr. Inge Merkelbach, behavioural researcher and managing director of BIG'R, wrote the Gedragsdoeboek (Behavioural do-book) to introduce professionals and organizations to the possibilities of behavioural change in an accessible way.
Bundling knowledge and experience
In recent years, BIG'R researchers worked with the City of Rotterdam to address various problems. For example, during the corona pandemic, they advised how the municipality could encourage its residents to keep 1.5 meters distance. They also developed an intervention so that Rotterdammers parked their bicycles in the parking spaces more often. Inge wanted to combine the knowledge that BIG'R gained about applying behavioural knowledge in organizations and make it accessible to a wider audience: "The Gedragsdoeboek is intended for anyone who wants to learn about applying behavioural knowledge in a pratical setting. Changing behaviour is often a challenge, both your own behaviour and that of others. The Gedragsdoeboek introduces you to the world of behavioural knowledge and provides the first tools for successfully changing behaviour."
A 9-step plan for behaviour change
The Gedragsdoeboek uses Susan Michie's Behavioural Change Wheel. Readers go through nine steps in the book. First, they get to work on making the problem concrete and describing it in behavioural terms. Then they learn why certain behaviour does or does not occur and finally come to a solution. According to Inge, it is especially important to go through all the steps in the right order: "It is important not to immediately think in solutions, and not to assume too much. By first taking a good look at the behaviour and all predictors of behaviour, you sometimes come to surprising insights. Sometimes the solution lies somewhere else than you would initially think." From experience, she knows that looking at problems through a behavioural lens takes a lot of practice. She hopes that readers of the book will become enthusiastic and continue to look for situations where behavioural knowledge can help. "The possibilities of applying behavioural knowledge are endless. I hope the book gets people excited to delve further into it and get started!"
The Gedragsdoeboek was written in collaboration with the municipality of Rotterdam and Beeck Ruimtemakers, an agency that also uses behavioural insights in its spatial planning projects. Interested in the Behavioral Doctrine Book? Download it here.
Want to learn more about BIG'R? Watch the video here.