World Bank publication: Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science (March 2016)

  • F H Mughal
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World Bank publication: Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science (March 2016)

Behavioral Change for Open Defecation

Talking of behavioral change frameworks for open defecation (OD), a recent (March 2016) World Bank publication (Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science; available at: www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/W...havioral0science.pdf ), says that most behavior change frameworks focus on relatively conscious, “reflective” drivers of behavior, including people’s emotions (e.g., pride, shame), rational knowledge (e.g., of germ theory), social norms, and explicit action plans (e.g., commitments to change).

The paper proposes a framework of 8 System 1 principles to support the initiation and maintenance of
OD behavior change. The 8 principles were developed through an iterative process involving (a) thematic coding of field research findings regarding OD, (b) identification of potential behavioral science principles matched to the themes identified in the field research, (c) consultation with 9 sanitation and hygiene experts with extensive experience in OD interventions around the world, and (d) consultation with 7 academic behavioral scientists with expertise related to each principle. The process culminated with the development of a simple summary and activation guidance for each principle.

The 8 principles to support the initiation and maintenance of OD behavior change behavior change are
as follows:

1. Ensure critical products and infrastructure are immediately and consistently physically available for the end user.
• Example: Promote latrine construction at secondary locations (transit, markets), so that new latrine use habits are not disrupted.

2. Create or capitalize on context change to drive new behavior of toilet use.
• Example: Capitalize on seasonal migration patterns or other events that disrupt existing behaviors –
time interventions to co-occur with these shifts.

3. Piggyback on other existing behaviors and cues.
• Example: Build community latrines that piggyback on existing established behaviors in a community
(e.g., washing clothes, water gathering).

4. Strategically increase friction for the undesired behaviors and lessen it for desired ones.
• Example: Promote pre-packaged options (e.g., “Easy Latrines” in Cambodia) that simplify the latrine construction process.

5. Support context-stable repetition for latrine use.
• Example: Reward context-stable use of community latrines (reward repeated use at the same place and
time, at least initially).

6. Embed ritualized elements in the change process.
• Example: Integrate OD messaging into already ritualized cultural practices (e.g., “no loo, no bride”
campaign in India).

7. Leverage point-of-action reminders and cues.
• Example: Create salient cues at typical OD sites to act as reminders that these physical spaces have a new meaning (e.g., use vermillion powder to ritually cleanse the site).

8. Highlight descriptive and “localized” norms that reduce cognitive demands.
• Example: Develop and frame incentive systems in ways that work at the level of a local group
(e.g., local village or women’s group), rather than individuals or entire area.

The authors emphasize that these 8 principles are meant to augment, not replace, approaches based on System 2 thinking. A core insight from the behavioral sciences is that human behavior is the product
of both System 2 thinking (rational, motivated) and System 1 thinking (automatic, cue driven habits). Thus, the most challenging behavior change problems will invariably require a set of targeted System 1 and System 2 tactics working in unison.

“System 1” drivers’ examples are: relatively automatic, and cue-driven drivers. System 1 factors of particular relevance to OD include people’s hygiene habits (e.g., mindlessly repeated behaviors cued by context) and “nudges” (i.e., small changes to the environment that can channel decision making and
behavior in new ways). Authors says that it is now well established that human behavior can also be heavily influenced by “System 1” drivers (i.e. relatively automatic, cue-driven drivers).

Examples of “System 2” drivers of behavior change are relatively conscious and motivational factors.

It would be helpful, if the authors apply their research proposals to the real-world case histories and, then issue a follow-up report to validate their approach, which would be useful for development planners in developing countries.


F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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  • campbelldb
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  • Dan Campbell, USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management Project
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Re: Interesting WSP report -

There is a link to the full text of this WSP report on Sanitation Updates .

Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science, 2016, Authors: David Neal, Ph.D. (Catalyst), Jelena Vujcic, M.P.H. (Catalyst), Rachel Burns Ph.D. (Catalyst), Wendy Wood, Ph.D. (University of Southern California) and Jacqueline Devine, MBA (World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program)

An excerpt: The 8 System 1 Principles to support the initiation and maintenance of OD behavior change behavior change are as follows:
1. Ensure critical products and infrastructure are immediately and consistently physically available for the end user.
• Example: Promote latrine construction at secondary locations (transit, markets), so that new latrine use habits are not disrupted.
2. Create or capitalize on context change to drive new behavior of toilet use.
• Example: Capitalize on seasonal migration patterns or other events that disrupt existing behaviors-time interventions to co-occur with these shifts.
3. Piggyback on other existing behaviors and cues.
• Example: Build community latrines that piggyback on existing established behaviors in a community (e.g., washing clothes, water gathering).

Dan Campbell
USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management Project
ECODIT
1901 N. Moore St, Suite 1004
Arlington, VA 22209
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