Behaviour Change by Design

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

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Impact of wine bottle and glass sizes on wine consumption at home: a within and between households randomised controlled trial

Posted: 18/08/2022

People drink less in restaurants when wine is served with smaller glasses and less at home from smaller bottles of wine. Would they also drink less wine at home when drinking from smaller glasses? And how much wine would people drink when using smaller glasses and smaller bottles? The results of the first study to address these questions – https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.16005– suggests that consuming wine at home from smaller glasses could reduce consumption by about 6.5%. The effect of drinking wine in smaller bottles is less certain.

During two 14-day study periods, 217 households in the UK that drank wine regularly purchased a pre-set volume of wine – based on their usual weekly consumption – in either 75cl or 37.5cl bottles, in randomised order. They we also randomised to drink from either smaller glasses (290ml) or larger wine glasses (350ml).

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What is the impact of health warning labels on motivation towards energy-dense snack foods?

Posted: 30/05/2022

Excess consumption of energy is a key driver of increasing rates of obesity, which in itself contributes to a range of non-communicable and communicable diseases.

One way to tackle excess consumption of energy is to use health warning labels (HWLs) that include aversive images illustrating the negative consequences of consuming high-calorie foods. Previous studies have found that image-and-text HWLs increase dietary self-control in relation to snacks and reduce hypothetical selection of high-calorie snacks.

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What is the impact of e-cigarette retail displays on attitudes to smoking and e-cigarette use in children?

Posted: 25/04/2022

Tobacco retail displays are banned in many countries, including in the UK. This ban is to address the link between these displays and increased smoking among adults, and greater susceptibility to smoking among children, leading to poorer health. Tobacco products are stored instead within covered units; however, these units often remain visible and positioned below tobacco signage.

There is no equivalent ban on displays of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in the UK, which are often positioned alongside covered tobacco storage units. There is currently an absence of evidence on whether e-cigarette retail displays are linked to increased smoking or e-cigarette use.

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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.

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