Behaviour Change Inquiry launched

28 July 2010

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has appointed a sub-committee, under the Chairmanship of Baroness Neuberger, to conduct an inquiry into the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions in achieving government policy goals and helping to meet societal challenges.

As governments across the world attempt to meet societal challenges such as reducing carbon emissions and alleviating the burden on health services caused by smoking, drinking and the rise in obesity, more and more attention is being focused on how behaviour can be influenced using a range of behaviour change interventions that rely on measures other than prohibition or the elimination of choice. The Committee will consider the current state of knowledge about which behaviour change interventions are effective, whether the Government’s current behaviour change interventions are evidence-based and subject to robust evaluation, and how such interventions are coordinated across departments. The Committee will also be looking at the role of industry and the voluntary sector in shaping behaviour patterns and the social and ethical issues surrounding behaviour change interventions by government.

As part of its inquiry, the sub-committee will conduct two case studies. The first will look at behaviour change interventions designed to reduce obesity. The subject matter of the second will be decided later in the year.

The sub-committee invites written evidence to be received no later than 8 October. The sub-committee would welcome evidence covering a range of areas, both generally with regard to behaviour change interventions or specifically about those aimed at tackling obesity, in order to examine the following questions:

  • What is known about how behaviour can be influenced?
  • What are the policy implications of recent developments in research on behaviour change?
  • Should behaviour change interventions be used in isolation or in combination with other policy interventions?
  • How successful are public behaviour change interventions at changing people’s behaviour?
  • Have publicly funded behaviour change interventions been both evidence-based and subject to effective evaluation?
  • Within government, are the lessons learnt from behaviour change interventions fed back into the design of future interventions?
  • How are cross-departmental behaviour change interventions managed?
  • When is it appropriate for the state to intervene to influence the behaviour of the public?
  • What lessons can the government learn from the private and voluntary sectors in terms of effective behaviour change campaigns?

See the full Call for Evidence for the full list of questions

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