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Communicators came together for Changing Minds: Behavioural Science event overview

Sometimes at Communicate we come across an area where we think to ourselves: “We could do a whole day on this”, …so we did!

In the run up to Communicate 2017: Navigating Change, 85 delegates from a diverse range of backgrounds came together for Changing Minds: Tools from Behavioural Science. This was a day to discuss, debate and build a vital communications toolkit for the coming year using fascinating insights into behavioural psychology and sociology.

Understanding how people think, feel and respond to information is vital to successfully communicating environmental issues and influencing positive change. Expert researchers and communications practitioners brought together a diverse range of perspectives, using behavioural sciences to explore and influence a shifting landscape of echo-chambers, divisive opinions and fake news.

If you missed Changing Minds, or if you attended and would like to refresh your memory, scroll down for an overview and we have made the speakers slides available here.

We opened with Tim Scoones, Communicate host and former BBC Producer for Springwatch, setting the scene and sharing some insights into who was in the room – an impressively diverse bunch from NGOs to big brands and festivals to farmers.

Talking us through a practitioners perspective, Simon Garrett from Bristol Zoo stressed the importance of bringing people into conservation successfully as “Conservation is too important to be left to conservationists’.

Highlights included  “Crap Man” from Zoos Victoria and how FSC campaigns run by Bristol Zoo have had success shaping behavioural change in zoo visitors.

With Michael Sanders from the Behavioural Insights Team held up on a slow moving train from London, Dr Kris De Meyer from Imperial College London shared a fantastic overview of psychological and neurological insights with highlights including cognitive dissonance, how people make decisions and how, as environmental communicators, we have to discuss issues with people who may hold opposing views. He provided delegates with clear ideas on how decision making happens and how ideas are entrenched.

Next, Dr Fiona Spotswood from the University of the West of England ran a workshop on how to think differently about peoples views, and the factors that may influence peoples behaviour. By the end of the session, delegates had been introduced to practical tools in avoiding assumptions that might be made in trying to influence behaviour change and had a go the powerful ISM tool.

After, a busy lunch of discussing the morning and networking with a diverse range of attendees, the delegates returned to explore examples of behaviour change in practice across the communication and environmental sectors.

Laura Fogg Rogers, Dr Tim Chatterton, and Dr Corra Boushel gave us a look at how ClairCity, a European-wide project, is being used to create citizen change for air quality.

Justine Williams former Senior Campaigns manager for the RSPCA shared with delegates a success story, reframing the issue of cat neutering helped affect behaviour change and considerably increase the number of cats being neutered.

Dr Ryan Lumber discussed the future of peoples connection with nature and how his research is exploring the importance of framing issues by providing opportunities to get people out into the natural environment.

The last session of the day was run by Wellcome, delegates used insights picked up throughout the day to see how they would implement behavioural change to persuade people to eat less red meat.

A huge thank you to all the speakers who provided us with such a unique and practical look into the world of behavioural science!