Participatory methods, behaviour-influence and development – a discussion paper
In the past few decades two complementary revolutions have been taking place; both involve behaviour change. The participatory revolution has involved the development of methods for enhancing the participation of ordinary people in decision-making at various levels. A revolution in the behavioural and related sciences has led to advances in the understanding of the fundamental principles of behaviour; these govern the ways in which behaviour is or can be influenced. This paper firstly describes how these principles underlie participatory methods. Secondly, development is described in terms of an increase in the variety and number of influences on behaviour. Many of these influences – in particular, many commercial marketing methods – promote unsustainable behaviours. These, in aggregate, drive 3 sets of crises: climate change and other environmental problems; the pandemics of obesity and lifestyle diseases; and financial and economic crises. The paper concludes by arguing that a confluence between the two revolutions will help researchers, practitioners and policymakers to better understand and more adequately address the behavioural roots of these crises; several other benefits of adopting a ‘behaviour-influence’ perspective on sustainable development are also discussed.