Behaviour Change by Design

Our vision is to accelerate progress in changing behaviour by redesigning environments to improve health for all.


BCbD Annual Lecture 2020

Posted: 11/08/2020

“Misinformation, pseudoscience and the unhealthy commodity industries”  by Professor Mark Petticrew from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The history of industry misinformation is well-documented – particularly tobacco industry denial of the link between smoking and ill health. Similar misinformation strategies are commonly used by the alcohol, food, fossil fuel, pesticide and other industries. It has been suggested that this reflects a cross-industry “playbook” that such industries use to distract from their harms and to delay effective monitoring and regulation. In this talk, Professor Mark Petticrew will outline the strategies some industries are using to misinform us and consider how these can be combatted.


Glass shape influences drinking behaviours in three laboratory experiments

Posted: 07/08/2020

Reducing consumption of drinks which contain high levels of sugar or alcohol could improve population health. There is increasing interest in changing behaviour by changing cues in environments – sometimes called nudging. The shape of a glass is one such cue that can influence how much we drink. Published in Scientific Reports on 7th August 2020, this paper presents three laboratory experiments investigating the impact of glass shape (straight-sided vs outward-sloped) on drinking soft drinks.


The Research Programme

We are a Wellcome-funded collaboration bringing together a team of behavioural and cognitive scientists across the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol. Our aim is to run a series of field and laboratory studies to test the promise of a type of intervention – altering cues in our immediate physical environments – to promote healthier behaviour. These are sometimes known as “choice architecture” or “nudging”. We are also interested in how to facilitate the implementation of this evidence. Ultimately, our hope is that this will lead to improved health for everyone.

In the most ambitious co-ordinated set of studies to date, we will conduct a series of linked field and laboratory studies to estimate effect sizes of promising Choice Architecture interventions to reduce food, alcohol and tobacco consumption. Enabled by unprecedented collaborations, these will be conducted in supermarkets, bars and cafeterias with interventions optimised through laboratory studies determining mechanisms.