Welcome to the Real World Behavioural Science (RWBS) podcast, where we look at how behavioural and social sciences are being used in the real world to help change the public’s health, for good.
The RWBS podcast is created by the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network (www.BSPHN.org.uk) and is aimed at people working in public health, academia and industry, who have an interest in how behavioural science is being used to improve health and wellbeing.
Each month, Stu King (BSPHN Committee Member and founder & CEO of behaviour change specialists BeeZee Bodies) interviews professionals from the worlds of public health, academia and industry, who are using behavioural science to help change people’s lives.
We have episodes featuring:
- Professor Jim McManus - Co-founder of the BSPHN & Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council, UK
- Dr Amy Bucher – Behavioural Scientist at MadPow, Boston, USA
- Dr Nick Cavill – Quasi-academic and Director of a Public Health Consultancy, UK
- Professor Chris Armitage – Professor of Health Psychology, University of Manchester, UK
- Rich Sheridan – CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations, Ann Arbour, USA
- Dr Justin Varney - Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, UK
- Mike Kelly - Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University Institute of Public Health, UK
- Wendy Wills - University of Hertfordshire
- Kim Roberts - HENRY
We have some great guests in the pipeline from across industry, public health and academia and from across the world, including:
- Samuel Salzer - Habits Weekly, Sweden
- Tim Chadborn - PHE Behavioural Insights Team
23. Professor Madelynne Arden (Professor of Health Psychology) and Greg Fell (Director of Public Health in Sheffield)
Maddy Arden is Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology (CeBSAP) at Sheffield Hallam University. She is a Chartered Psychologist, a full member of the DHP, and a Registered Health Psychologist (HCPC). Maddy is co-editor of the British Journal of Health Psychology and director of the Behavioural Science Consortium, which provides expertise to government on the application of behavioural science to public policy issues and is co-chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Behavioural Science hub.
Greg Fell is the Director of Public Health in Sheffield. He graduated from Nottingham University with a Degree in Biochemistry and Physiology in 1993 and since then has had various roles including a Social Researcher in a maternity ward as well as a number of roles in Health Promotion and Public Health. Since 2016, Greg has worked as the Director of Public Health for Sheffield.
Behavioural Science in the fight against Covid-19
Professor Arden talks about how everything she does is underpinned by the theories of Health Psychology and Behavioural Science and how these can be put into practice in the real world. She explains how using these theories and frameworks, in relation to Covid-19, was helpful early on to predict what might be useful and what might happen.
Underestimating the complexity of behavioural science
She goes on to discuss how many can often underestimate the complexity of behavioural science and how she’s fed up of people using the phrase ‘common sense’, questioning what exactly we mean by it and how we need to consider that people can sometimes make decisions without a conscious rationale. In reference to this, she adds that there needs to be an awareness of the different factors influencing behaviour and more insightful conversations around this.
Thinking outside of ‘common sense’…
Greg Fell explains how he works to convince people to think outside of their own ‘common sense’. Sticking to weight, Greg discusses decision making and how we all make rational and irrational choices, in the 'here and now', not thinking about what might happen in the future. How we’re products of our environment and how this can influence the choices we make, with reference to the recent junk food advertising ban and the work he has done in the past regarding smoking cessation. Both go on to debate the similarities and differences between smoking cessation and weight loss barriers strategies.
Professor Maddy Arden summarises the need to create awareness of how broadly behavioural science can be used and highlight the basic knowledge to know how widely it can be applied.
Greg adds that behavioural science has positively begun to be applied across the Council and in agreement with Maddy, states how important it is to point out that the behavioural science ‘toolbox’ is out there, it exists and it can be used practically to solve problems.
Professor Madelynne Arden
Twitter / Linkedin
Twitter / Linkedin
22. Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Founding Director of Social Marketing at Griffith University)
Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele is a social marketer and behavioural scientist. She is the Founding Director of Social Marketing at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, which is the largest university-based group of social marketers in the world.
She is Founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Social Marketing, has led projects that have changed behaviours for 10,000’s of people in areas including health, the environment and for complex social issues, has published more than 150 books and been awarded The Philip Kotler Social Marketing Distinguished Service Award.
Differences between marketing & social marketing
Sharyn begins this episode by explaining how marketing can be applied across commercial and social outcomes, but also applied to ideas and social issues. She grew into the decision to move away from being a commercial marketer to a social one which has led her to be even more creative in order to change behaviours for the long term.
How to sell more wine, to more people, more often
Starting her career marketing consumer goods, Sharyn liked the art of what she was doing but wanted to learn more, so went back to University to do a Masters and then on to do a PhD. Her PhD became famously, how to sell more wine to more people more often!
Having enjoyed the educational setting of her time at University, Sharyn went on to to teach social marketing focusing predominantly on social, health and environmental issues and founded the Journal of Social Marketing to create more space for researches to publish work.
Social marketing is much more than social media
Sharyn goes on to explain that a natural misconception is that social marketing relates simply to social media. It is instead the idea of marketing in a social space. There is a branding issue behind what social marketing is, and is not.
She discusses how when you're working in the space of social change and your programme isn't get the uptake, its because you're selling the wrong thing. And we need to take a step back, and look at selling people something that they really want. That's where the real work begins.
Coca Cola sell lifestyle, not product
In reference to selling a lifestyle rather than just a product, Sharyn talks about how Coca Cola have done an effective job of building the associations in our minds that Coca Cola is family, fun and good times, giving links that go way beyond a beverage quenching a thirst.
In relation to the health industry, she talks about whether messaging focuses too much on the health issue and we're getting the whole 'sell' wrong, needing to review what will really move and motivate people in order to stop missing the mark.
Sharyn moves on to highlight some of her projects; a social marketing pilot campaign to keep leaves out of waterways to improve water quality, the Leave it campaign working to reduce koala and dog interactions given that dog attacks are the third most common cause of death amongst Koalas and the Blurred Minds project, changing the way adolescents feel about alcohol.
Drawing on her marketing experience, Sharyn talks about the magic combination of listening well and giving people what they want. And keep doing it until you get it right.
Data is great, but it's only looking backwards. It's the intuition and learning how to find what should happen next that is key.
Behaviour change means you can't do what you've always done. It takes courage.
21. Richard Wiseman (Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire)
Professor Richard Wiseman has been described as ‘…one of the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologists in the world today.’ His books have sold over 3 million copies and he presents keynote talks to organisations across the world, including The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.
He holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and is one of the most followed psychologists on Twitter.
Street Magician to Psychology Professor
Richard starts the podcast by talking about becoming completely hooked on magic at a young age. Whilst working in Covent Garden as a street magician, Richard happened upon a magic book which described the similarities between magicians and psychologists. So began his interest in psychology.
After completing his undergraduate degree at University College London (UCL), he went to Edinburgh University to work on a PhD looking at psychics and mediums as the team wanted someone with a background in the psychology of deception and magic. Upon completing that, Richard accepted a Lectureship at the University of Hertfordshire where he is now a professor.
Public Understanding of Psychology
Through work for radio and the BBC around identifying truth and lies, Richard talks about meeting two people that hugely impacted his career; Roger Highfield, who was the Science Editor at The Telegraph at the time and now is heavily involved in the Science Museum, and also Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem.
Putting ideas to paper
Richard shares what he learnt from some time working in advertising, how to reframe and the importance of authenticity as a writer. In line with this, he talks about his book, The Luck Factor, looking at the psychology of luck. From this, he identified that small interventions can have big impact, which evolved into 59 seconds; think a little, change a lot.
Richard discusses how all the talks he gives are essentially about getting people to change, through simple interventions or 'opening the door' in a fun way. From these concepts, he wrote 'Rip it Up' about lifestyle change and during Covid-19, helped design a game where the more you kept away from people, the more lives you saved called 'Can you save the World?'.
Richard talks about 'being expansive', working with Derren Brown who takes the audience on a journey from what seems a small idea through to what becomes a massive conclusion enthralling an entire audience.
Richard leaves us with advice to find your passionate, be authentic and have a big vision. Don't be constrained by what others have done in the past and fundamentally, if you have a great idea, it will sell itself.
20. Professor Susan Michie (Professor of Health Psychology & Director of CBC at UCL)
Susan Michie is Professor of Health Psychology and Director of UCL's Health Psychology Research Group. She is also chartered clinical & health psychologist, and elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) and the British Psychological Society (BPS).
Early Life & Career
Susan starts the episode by talking about the huge shoes she felt she had to fill from a young age, with a father who was instrumental in setting up modern AI and computer science in the UK. During this time, the Lighthill report was produced saying that there was no future in computers - check out a YouTube video on the report's debate! Susan’s mother was also the first woman foreign secretary of the Royal Society, so her upbringing had a large emphasis on science.
Susan details her journey through University, early career, and the many ways that she rebelled against the system, staging events at Oxford University and beyond to challenge outdated policies and thinking. As a clinical psychologist, she worked in social services family centres with families and children who were at risk. She also worked at the Royal Free Hospital, London where she joined the Psychology Unit as a Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Health Psychology, working with Professor Marie Johnston.
Eventually Susan branched into other areas, such as public and professional attitudes towards genetic testing and informed choice and decision making about prenatal screening. She explains that her career journey has had many branches as she does not stay within the academic four-walls, even knocking on doors to talk with people.
CBC & COM-B
Susan talks about her work in UCL's Centre for Behaviour Change (CBC) which brings together disciplines and translates behavioural science for practical use. The CBC provide CBC training, a Summer school, conferences & events, and an MSc in behaviour change.
She shares how the COM-B model of behaviour was developed by working in the Department of Health, where she saw how none of the many behavioural frameworks were 100% fit for purpose. Systematic reviews revealed that a simple model was needed to understand behaviour, and inspiration was taken from the American Judicial System – does someone have the Capability, the Opportunity and the Motivation to commit a crime.
As her work on the application of behavioural theories continues, Susan shares how she is looking to continue linking work across disciplines and seek methods for better analysis of the huge amounts of data being produced about behaviour change.
Susan leaves us with advice for those starting out or entering field: try and do what you are really interested in, are curious about and enjoy doing, when you can. Building networks is hugely important so don't be shy to start conversations or write to people. 9 times out of 10 it might go nowhere, but 1 in 10, it can take you to interesting places.
19. BSPHN Committee Leads - Dr Michelle Constable, Professor Angel Chater, Dr Neil Howlett & Professor Jim McManus
This is a special episode with the Current Chair, Past Chair, and Past-Past Chair and Treasurer of the BSPHN! Having had the BSPHN's annual conference in February, this is the perfect time to get some of the founding committee members together.We begin...
18. Dan Makoski (Chief Design Officer at Lloyds Banking Group)
The BSPHN's Annual Conference is running from 9th - 11th February 2021. Sign up to attend now and get a year's free membership.
Stu is joined by Dan Makoski; an executive that brings an organisation’s deepest purpose to life by weaving technology and strategy together through brilliant design.
Dan is Chief Design Officer at Lloyds Banking Group, leading a multi-disciplinary human-centred team with the goal of helping Britain prosper through empathetic & pioneering design.
He was Head of Design at Walmart (the Fortune 1), started Project ARA at Google, designed the original Surface at Microsoft, led design research globally at Motorola, and was the first VP of Design at Capital One.
Dan knows seven versions of the running man & in addition to being bald, Dan & Stu (& finance & health), have lots in common.
Dan talks about his experiences of connecting a historically transactional world with real human behaviour. The pair discuss the fact that heavily regulated industries like health, finance & education are risk averse due to their importance, & therefore suffer from the unintended consequence of lack of creativity & human focus. They also discuss the need to flip our approach to language...
"Banking has operated so far on the presumption that to help people, they need to make people financially literate. What we're explaining is that banking has to learn the language of people."
Dan explains simple approaches to adopt when beginning the process of designing around people, including developing personas, scenarios & interactions to better respond to human behaviour. He explains how through extensive research, Lloyds have moved from a "customer journey" approach to a "life journey" approach to help people connect banking with relatable life moments.
He also shares example of using behavioural economics in practice, including the locus of control, and how, implemented in the design of banking products, it helps people make better financial decisions.
Stu & Dan discuss the similarities between health & financial wellbeing, the "goalposts" of relative progress vs absolute success & the feelings of guilt and shame associated.
Dan closes with positive messages that industries are moving in the right direction towards a human centred approach & hopes that once the pandemic has gone, the financial honesty & human focus will remain.
The Social DilemmaDan: website, linkedin, twitterNudgestock presentation - 1:41:54Thisismoney.co.uk articleFintech Futures article
Real insights from the front lines of health behavior change
Only two episodes in but have already gotten a lot out of this series