Boris Johnson, Guy Watson and behaviour change


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Boris Johnson, Guy Watson and behaviour change

Posted 26 January 2011 17:12 by martin

There was a professor talking on the radio this morning about 'nudge' theory.  It put me in mind of two things I've read recently.

Here's Guy Watson, of Riverford Organic Vegetables Limited, talking about what might make him behave differently:

Every time fuel prices rise farmers and road hauliers are the most vocal table-thumpers, protesting their right to cheap fuel. As a farmer, importer and user of more lorries than I care to admit, I find this belligerence an embarrassment. The sooner fuel doubles or even quadruples in price, the better. It will encourage me to stop procrastinating and make the changes that I know I should, and eventually will have to do, anyway. It makes perfect sense to tax things we should do less of.

And here's Boris Johnson's reaction (in a 2004 Telegraph article – his views may have changed…) to a Health Select Committee report.  He has a different take on behaviour change:

Speaking for myself, I would say a lot of us also eat too much because we are perfectly happy, but also really rather greedy. So before we employ thousands of walking experts in the NHS, and before we roll out some vast new anti-obesity strategy, let us get some things straight. This is not a disease. Any talk of “pandemics” or “cures” is pure cant. This is a phenomenon entirely caused by personal volition.

The committee says: “Individuals cannot solve the problem as ministers seem to suppose.” But if individuals cannot solve the problem, then no one can solve the problem; because there is absolutely no one, apart from yourself, who can prevent you, in the middle of the night, from sneaking down to tidy up the edges of that hunk of cheese at the back of the fridge.

I wonder where users are on the Guy/Boris spectrum when it comes to persuading people to think, and act, in a different way?

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