When we go to work or school, especially if we live in an urban area, we can often choose between different modes of transport...
Why behavioural insights matter
Our behaviour affects our health. Think about smoking, eating (un)healthy food, getting screened for a specific type of cancer, or exercising. Washing our hands, getting tested for HIV or getting vaccinated are also important for the health of those around us.
Behavioural insights can help us better understand how and why we behave in ways that affect our health. For instance:
We’re more likely to exercise and bike to work or school if our friends and relatives do the same. The behaviour of those around us can create a social norm.
We sometimes fail to choose healthy food because we don’t notice or understand nutritional information on food packages.
Negative emotions such as fear influence our willingness to take health screening tests.
Understanding these behavioural factors can contribute to more effective and efficient health policies.
How behavioural insights can help
Behavioural insights can generate and test policy interventions that account for these behavioural factors. For instance:
Picture warnings on cigarettes and tobacco
- New rules under the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, applicable since 2016, were informed by behavioural evidence.
- An advance impact assessment (PDF) (see Section 5.3) examined evidence about the images and text that are most effective in eliciting negative emotional reactions and decreased desire to smoke, for both smokers and non-smokers.
Nutritional labels on food
- In 2020, the European Commission report on better nutrition information on food (PDF) included behavioural evidence (Section 6) to inform future food labelling schemes.
- This evidence focused on consumer attention, acceptance, and understanding of front-of-package nutrition labels, and their impact on purchases and diets.
- A behavioural study on vaccination acceptance and demand
- The Social Biking Challenge: a mobile app to increase bicycle commuting
- Front-of-pack nutrition labelling schemes: a comprehensive review (JRC Science for Policy Report, 2020)
- Network interventions for changing physical activity behaviour in preadolescents (Nature Human Behaviour, 2018)
- Tracing how normative messages may influence physical activity intention (Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2017)
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This JRC Science for Policy report was produced in support of a Commission report on front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling. It provides a review of the scientific literature concerning...