Influence: Use the Environment
We're going to really return to this issue of behavior change what does it mean to change your behavior? What are some of the other tools we can use? So if we think about yesterday well, when we talked about changing behavior, we focused primarily on that issue of creating a kind of a plan a scaffold that you could use to change your behavior so the implementation intentions that you started to create yesterday were really all about what are some specific actions that I can take? Where can I put them on my calendar? What can I do to overcome some of the obstacles that I might face? But those air that's only one part of the process of changing your behavior because what that's really doing is focusing on the process of what are the actions I probably need to take? There are two other components to change your behavior that are absolutely critical to understand one of them is the environment that you're in because every behavior happens in an environment and then the other is the people ...
that you engage with and notice that when I talked about this when I titled this I started with the word influence, which is also a little bit of a shift because remember this morning I was talking about this duality of everything that I talk about, right? Everything that I talk about is something that we can use on ourselves and then it's also something we can use to affect the people around us and so when we begin to think about the influence of the environment on behavior, we're going to start off a little bit by thinking about how environments are affecting our own behaviour but then we're going to realize that as you manipulate environments, you're also affecting other people's behavior and towards the end we're gonna play around with a little exercise as I said earlier, we're going to see if we can help people to floss more regularly um for those people who don't on one of those people I'm willing to admit that um so we're going to think a little bit about ways of playing around the environment to get people to floss a little bit, okay? So, um to really put this into context right, the environment that you're in is a really powerful determinant of your behavior, okay? We talked earlier about the fact that the habits that you have the things that you do mindlessly are driven by that consistent mapping between the world and your behavior. All right? The car's always has the gas pedal on the left brake pedal on the right and because of that consistent mapping, I know what what to do when I'm sitting in the car not only do I have habits that are, uh, where the environment itself helps me to maintain that habit but also the environment itself promotes certain kinds of behaviors over others. Ok, so if I have, if I make trash cans readily visible in the environment, it makes it easier for people to throw their trash away rather than to just drop it on the ground. All right, so so I can use the environment to help people, to recognize what the appropriate behaviour is to do. Okay, so environments matter a tremendous amount in terms of both their ability to support habits, but also in their ability to me make a particular desirable behaviours easy to perform. And really, if you remember nothing else from this particular segment, what I want you to remember is that the critical aspect of using the environment is that we want to make desirable behaviours easy to perform an undesirable behaviors hard to perform. Okay, that's, the principal now, the question is, what is it? What does it mean to make something easy? What is it? What does it mean to make something difficult? And some of that has to do with influencing the kinds of habits that people have and influencing whether the environment itself actually supports those habits. So remember, if I want to create a habit, part of what I need tohave is a consistent mapping. And so I want to create consistent mapping is for people to build habits and then maintain those consistent mapping, and this is this is something that's interesting? I mean, so if you think about the website, for example, that that creative live has to develop, they have to they want to build habits, they want to make it comfortable for people who come to this site to use it, and so that means keeping certain things inconsistent places so that over time you remember what to do when you come to the site. Similarly, you go to the grocery store. If you're buying toothpaste, you would like to be ableto look for a familiar logo to buy the toothpaste that you always buy when your toothpaste company changes up its packaging, then that is a that that actually disrupt your ability to use your habit and you, you may not realize how many habits you use when you go to the grocery store, but think about this, right? A lot of us think about decision making in a much more deliberative way mean, when we think about we asked people about making decisions, we often in fact, even in experiments we do this, we'll give people experiments to do, and so will give people three options, it will say here carefully consider these and choose the one that you want but if you think about your own behavior in the grocery store uh your you've gotten to the grocery store you've got your card you've got thirty minutes to get through the grocery store to buy fifty five items okay? And uh and you're in a crowd of people and your main goal is to get out of there as quickly as possible and so if you actually watch people buying stuff in the grocery store they're pulling stuff off the shelf I mean, standing for a second looking picking stuff up, okay? It's not a deliberative process most of the time in fact, you have a pretty decent idea what you're looking for and you're just trying to find the thing that looks familiar now it might be a brand of something or it might be one of two or three brands that you habitually by in which everyone catches your eye first you're going to grab okay when the grocery store gets reorganized it is a disastrous experience um one year my grocery store added three thousand square feet which I thought was going to be a wonderful thing and they totally reorganized all of the shelves and the very first time I went there I mean I wanted to throttle someone I was looking for someone in one of those grocery store uniforms just so I could see why did you do this? Because I had to think about every single thing that I was doing in the store none of the habits that I had developed over two years of shopping at this store worked anymore and so uh that was that that was a massive disruption it took me like two hours to get through the store was awful but notice that that we could get those disruptions sometimes on a smaller scale in ways that completely disrupt our habits in situations in which I can't believe the company wanted me to disrupt my habit right? So um so for example I'll go look for my favorite brand of toothpaste and if for some reason they've decided to re design the packaging I'm totally out of luck and I'm standing there going I must be here somewhere right? I don't think they went out of business they're a big company you know but I can't find it I can't find the one that I want and uh and in that moment it's bad for the company because any time that you make me think about a decision then I might come to a different conclusion that I came to in the past rights you have to be very careful when you make people think about their decisions and the problem is most companies don't really think carefully about the value of the habits that people have uh when they're engaging with that company so I've gone to a number of large companies and worked before uh, where they make big consumer products and I understand why it is that they changed their packaging so often so if you've ever walked into one of these big company offices, they often display their product all over the office, which means that every time a person goes to work, so every single day they are walking by the packaging associated with their product every single day and I'll tell you after two or three years of doing that, it must be exhausting to see that same package every single time, so after two years, you think you know what? We got to change this up. People are probably bored with this. I know I'm bored with this, so you hire a graphic designer and the graphic designer comes in and changes everything up and that's going to make everything better. The problem is that the people who are buying your stuff don't operate on the same timescale that you do in those two years you've seen that product packaging a thousand times, but if they buy your product six times a year, they've seen it a dozen times in that same period. A dozen is just about enough time for them to have developed a habit to use your product and to find it so just about the time that they've developed a habit that's when you get sick and tired of it and you change everything up okay, that's the problem. So what we need to do is to remember that in many situations in the world we are trying to help people to create a consistent mapping is in their environment and to maintain those mapping now in your own environment, you have much more control over that. You would generally speaking not wake up in the morning one day and think, you know what? I'm just gonna reorganize the house no reason just gonna reorganize it. You know, we don't tend to do that, and so were able to maintain the consistent mapping is in our environment, but here's the interesting thing, every once in a while we should actually consider disrupting our environment when we're trying to influence our habits. So, for example, you think about somebody who's trying to change their eating behavior so they want to disrupt that we have a tremendous number of habits associated with the way we eat. Okay, we have the number of portions we tend to eat. We have the kinds of foods we tend to cook, the time the types of foods we tend to buy. How can you influence those elements of your behavior? Well, one of the things you could do is to put yourself in a situation in which your habits no longer work, and an easy way to do that is to rearrange your kitchen and so one of the things I tell people to do is ifyou're looking teo, eat differently, then go home and move everything around the kitchen, put the put the dishes in different cabinets than they were before and put them on different shelves within the cabinets to switch everything up, move the silverware into different drawers, put them the opposite way around. So if the knives were usually on the left on the force are on the right now, switch him, um, you know, put all of the pots and pans in a different place and what that does, admittedly, it creates a little bit of frustration, but what it does for you is it gives you about a six week period in which your routines don't work anymore. And now, in that six week period, you have the opportunity to actually think about a lot of the decisions that you make in the kitchen. What you've done is to disrupt ah, habit by breaking some of the consistent mapping is that you had created over time. So here's the interesting thing right? I don't recommend breaking habits for no apparent reason. Every once in a while somebody says to me, you know, I I wantto break out of a rut, I want to get more creative should I change my route home from work? You know and I always say to people, look, if you want to spend your time thinking about your route home from work, by all means change your route home from work but if that's not what you want to spend your time thinking about the no don't change that if you're worried about being in a routine and you want to break that routine, figure out what elements of the routine are the problem and disrupt those but don't just make changes for no apparent reason because what that'll do primarily is create frustration so if you're tryingto you know, change the way you eat you know don't disrupt other elements of the house don't move all the towels around right? But but do play around with the kitchen right? Give yourself an opportunity to develop a whole new set of habits by playing around with that element of the environment so notice notice that what uh what this is doing is saying that we can influence ourselves by playing around with the creation of consistent mapping zor the disruption of those map ings and at the same time we can influence the behavior of other people by doing exactly the same. I think so if you find yourself feeling like you need to help other people to change their behavior right if you're consulting with people in their business place and you want to help people to make changes in their behaviour have them think carefully about the environment that they're in and make sure that they are using their consistent mapping sze to support habits that are good for them, but also disrupting those consistent mapping is when they want to lose those habits. And so we don't want you to do is, um is actually to return to that habit diary that we started with yesterday. Okay, so remember with the habit, ari, what I'm asking you to do in the long run is to think about over a fourteen day period, what are the habits you have that your, you know, when you're trying to change something? When do you do it? Where do you do it? How are you feeling? Alright, what? What is the circumstance that you're in? And and now I want to focus on the environmental influences on these habits, right? And what are some of the ways that you might consider changing that environment in order to promote a better set of habits than you had before? Okay, and I would actually on so here's what I'm gonna do. So each of you had a habit you were thinking about yesterday, and those of you who were here yesterday at home, you did the same thing, you had a habit that you were thinking about. And so we're gonna just take a couple of minutes, and I want you to do this. I want you to think about that habit again. Think about what are some of the environmental influences on that habit, and then I want you to actually, if you can, to draw out that environment a little bit physically, you know, make a drawing, no matter how bad it is don't never worry about being a bad drawer. It's, it's, it's, it's good to draw things out, draw out that environment a little bit and think to yourself what are what is one or two or even three changes you might make that might make it easier for you to do the desirable behavior and harder for you to do the undesirable one. Take a couple of minutes to do that, and we'll we'll. We'll talk a little bit about something else going on, you know, what's going on in the chat room. This is a question that comes from k c I, and they want to know if you have any environmental change ideas for keeping us off the couch or other places where we don't use our time wisely knows is something where you want to rearrange your furniture, make your couch look less inviting. Yeah, so one of the things that I recommend doing in order to keep yourself off the couch where you're not being productive is to move the television so it's no longer in front of the couch or move the couch so it's no longer facing the television because you know once I mean most people don't actually spend time sitting on the couch staring off into space it does happen but it's rare and so actually part of the question you want to ask is what are you doing on the couch, you know? And and so if it's watching television then you know, consider moving the tv set a little bit, you know, if it's it's some for some people it's just you know, I think one of the big habits these days is this thing right is that I just, you know, people pull this thing and they get sucked into it the next thing you know, twenty five minutes of facebook have gone by um a really interesting thing you can do is just to remove the app. Um yeah, very hard to check facebook the facebook without without faith, the facebook app some people are able to do it sort of wired in, but but those air some simple changes to the environment and they may seem drastic, but you know what I mean if you if you really, if you're spending way too much time on something, you know how many different places do you need to be able to check facebook? I mean, fifteen years ago you didn't facebook at all, you survive just fine, right? Do you really need tohave it in every phase of your life? And if the answer to that is no, maybe you can remove it from some of the devices and free up some of your time to do to do something else a little bit about the consumer aspect. The branding and packaging brought up a question here, and they want to know how many times does a consumer need to see brandon packaging to buy a product or to develop a habit around it? Now you mentioned the number twelve kind of in passing that is there any science to that the number twelve or how many times somebody needs to establish a habit with a brand? Yeah, so I think that the real the real answer to that is again, you know, developing habits is a matter of you know, it depends a little bit on how distinctive the packaging is, but but there's a high probability that by the time someone is interacted with your packaging a dozen times, that they at least are fairly quick to recognize that when they see it again and this is particularly important for those products where the packaging you see at the store is something you throw away and don't use again so think about the difference between two kinds of products so let's stick with consumer products just for fun the difference between uh, toothpaste and dishwashing liquid so toothpaste you buy it in a square container because that's the easiest thing for them to stack and then when you as soon as you use it, you take the tube out of the box you flat in the box, you throw it away, you never see that box again so you literally interact with that box the six times a year that you actually go out and buy toothpaste and otherwise what you have is the tube so there you know, a dozen purchases over a two year period is probably going to be what's required before people are really able tto identify the packaging well, on the other hand, uh, think about, you know, something like dishwashing liquid, for example, you're you're using the product in its packaging every single day and that's what it's gonna look like on the shelf? And so you're going to be able to acquire a a real familiarity without a real expertise for that much more quickly um and it's really the habit there that you're creating is the ability to identify the thing that you typically by right and so you will be much better at identifying that quickly when uh when you've had a chance to interact with it a tally stick dozen times and so the problem is if you change up that packaging every couple of years you're putting people in a situation where they finally learn to recognize your packaging and now you've changed it up on them and for those people who think but you know what? We have to remain fresh um what is one of the most successful brands on the planet coca cola when was the last time coca cola changed its packaging right and did any does anyone complain that coca cola just you know that isn't isn't really it doesn't really that fresh look to it no uh they're everywhere right and and they're remarkably successful at it so I you know I think the idea I mean I believe that graphic designers need jobs so it's not like I'm trying to go after the job's a graphic designers but but we should create jobs that are that are actually helping companies to do what they do successfully and not creating change for the sake of change all right, so now we thought about our environment oh this this looks like a good time for the hot seat it wants to come up and talk about their habits and and uh and ways that they could change their environment to fix those habits nobody's looking away don't pick me don't come on somebody's gotta come up come up all right let's somebody else's last chance all right let's have it we have one brave soul here the introvert now is our brave soul I that I'm not the pleaser but oh you're agreeable I'm agreeable the agreeable introvert is willing if somebody's got it it's kind of you know I'm albertine on that so all right, so so remind everybody what? What? Your habit wass uh is too when I come home from the farmer's market, I'd like to, um be ableto get my stuff prepped for the week and make food ok? And we're in and this was so we decided that this was ah weekend and that and that part of the problem was you were walking uphill and downhill and then upstairs and so you got back home and you were exhausted and so despite your best intentions, you were doing something else instead of prepping that yeah, okay that's where we were. So what are we gonna do to the environment? So, uh, one of the things that you said yesterday was something like, does it have to be in the weekend and so I realized that I can go in the middle of the week so that will change my environment because my husband won't be home and I realized that one of the things on sundays that I'd rather be doing than propping food is hanging out with my husband which is a good thing yes s so I can go during the week and that will change the environment that sets off a home bar because she won't be there right on dh then I also realize that it's a pain in the butt when I want to put things in the refrigerator but I hadn't cleared out the riff like the stuff from the previous week so if I go to the farmer's market on a tuesday monday night oh clean out the refrigerator so that it's ready to go you got to add a new routine right? Okay on dh then I also I hadn't um and I also just thought of before I go to the farmer's market having some of the tools out that I use so that it's not another effort to bring in more tools that they're just already out on the counter okay um in terms of my kitchen is quite small so in terms of moving much around and um I didn't have any ideas but then I also thought that it's not just the kitchen that's called that's the problem it's like the couch calling me okay so I don't really have any ideas on how to change the environment of the couch or like when I come in the front door or how I can do that. Okay. All right, so so what? So this is great. You've got a bunch of really nice suggestions here and a bunch of things that will really fundamentally change the nature of the time scribed by by doing it on a different day when there isn't an option to spend some time with your husband that's great, you know? And so I think I think that you really are manipulating a couple of really nice aspects of the environment, and I think just by identifying I think what's nice here is you've identified that it isn't just the kitchen right, that the environment might extend more broadly, and that creates additional options in the event that you get close to get better, but you don't necessarily fix it completely, then you might think, well, ok, now, having made these changes are there's some things I might be able to do, you know, to my to my couch environment, right? And I like also like the idea of extending it in time of recognizing, well, it's not really just, um, the event of stepping through the door with the groceries, it's also, you know that because my refrigerator wasn't uh clear already I have to extend this event in time and actually prepare my environment for this to happen and so now you're gonna have your monday night routine of cleaning out the refrigerator maybe a sunday afternoon routine of cleaning out the refrigerator or whatever it is so that's great yeah I mean I think that's really nice and and again write the ultimate goal is to make that they're really desirable behavior of coming back home from the farmer's market and preparing all the food making that easy and making making an undesirable behavior you know a little bit harder to do and so you know, maybe maybe I'll have to turn the cushions over the sofa or something like that in the end make that a less desirable place to sit. Excellent. Good deal okay. All right. Thank you. Yeah, I like the cushions example I think that could be good there you go. Thank good anybody else way on all right, cheryl you know, twist your arm. Yes. All right let's hear it. So what's the theme the habit is getting up and going to check my email in my social media every morning before we do anything else. Yeah, so I this actually this is interesting I'm gonna don't ask question and is a question for everybody else out there to, um how many people work well, first thing in the morning anybody how many people think people worked well in the first thing the afternoon what's your best time to work mornings morning you're a morning person all right? So because one of the things that I find is that we often take that best work time and this is true for a lot of people, which is why I want to highlight because I think this is really nice ah lot of people end up having their best work time and they start that best work time by checking email and checking social media so this is this is something I worry about a lot for people it's something that I worried about for myself, you know, helping helping people to find really good strategies for dealing with exactly that problems I'm excited you're doing okay? Yes oh actually started this a little bit before this class I didn't know we were talking about it, but it was on sunday where saturday night I'd read something and social media somebody just pissed me off about something and so I got there so often I hear that never happens anybody else and so on sunday, when I I went to go check to see what the further responses were to this melee I release what am I doing it like he was eight o'clock on a sunday was planning you're the beach like I'm sitting on social media so I signed out of it but on monday the itch happened again like I've got to do what I normally dio and so I didn't really there wasn't anything urgent that I needed to check on monday because I cleared my calendar to be here but I was still like walking in that direction to my home office and thinking what what am I doing all right I need to get ready to come here so um my normal routine is I wake up I walk out of my bedroom into the hall into the dining room to the kitchen to the home office and I'm like this okay and on monday I did the same thing but then I had to check the clock like I gotta leave at a certain time we'd get here in time so I started flipping through and I started to sign into my social media platform went no so then I went on and got ready and came here this morning I'm all of a sudden got motivated to plant flowers so earlier is a little earlier this morning I went to plant a couple flowers instead of going to check my ego and my time was up so I needed to get ready and go so I couldn't do it okay um I'm not sure how many more mornings I can find we're trying yeah so um I'm thinking I really do need to replace it with something that's consistent and maybe it's just making breakfast right, right. I need eat breakfast anyway. So why don't I just make breakfast? Then? Go get ready. And then I don't have to have that twitch. So? So let's go that's one got through a few things. This is really cool. So first of all, are you? Are you checking it mostly on a smartphone? Yes. Okay. Okay, so part of the environment here is the phone itself. There was one thing that you said here that I think is actually really nice when we talk about this idea of making desirable behaviours easy and undesirable behaviors hard you had logged out of social media. Yes, right now, a lot of people never do that right on a lot of these aps. You know, you never need to log out because it'll it'll automatically log you and every time you open the app, but you can log on and then it it takes an extra thirty seconds. Toe log back in. You know what if you're trying to stop yourself from checking social media? If you if you slow the whole process down, which makes it more frustrating to do right, you're going to check it less often write because I can just I can say I've got I've got thirty seconds let me check my social media but if it's gonna take me thirty seconds to log in, I'm not gonna check social media because you never check social media for thirty seconds you check it and then that thirty seconds becomes eight minutes exactly. So if you have to log in, that gives you an opportunity to stop yourself it gives time for that that that stop system to kick in, right? So there's just that little bit that just that very small change I mean, think about for example, you know, I often say if if we wanted to help people to walk a little more often, one of the things we could do is slow the elevators down in buildings, right? If the, uh right, if the elevator took longer to get their people be like back with this, I'm gonna walk, right? And then they get more steps in and it's a very small chance of those people who need the elevator will still get there and if we're talking, you know a loss of thirty seconds or forty five seconds so not a critical lost time but enough to annoy us, right these very small changes can often have a really profound impact on behavior, so just logging out of social media creates this this additional burden right on using it again, that that will be one way of stopping you from doing it. And then then one of things that may happen is you may discover that you do other things with your time, right? Right. So once you haven't logged in, you may notice I could plant some flowers I could I could take, you know, I mean, for me, it's things like, um, you know, how sometimes, like, a little bit of a grind builds up somewhere in the house, you know, just like that like this, but you know, if you do a good job of cleaning there's always this one spot you miss, but if you're walking through the house without your face buried in the phone, did you notice that? And then you say, well, you know what? I got two minutes, I'm just going to clean that up, and then it doesn't annoy you so much anymore. So I think that there are ways that that time ends up being filled in these productive ways just by putting yourself in a situation where now it's just a pain teo use to use social media, so that's so the only may haven't does haven't signed off of the e mail on my smartphone because that constantly is buzzing right, right, right but but you know, it's just a short step to do that cool awesome that's awesome and and that's a problem I think a lot of people are struggling with some hopefully this is this has helped a lot of people here think you good good any any anything from from the outside anybody got any changes they want to make to their environment? Well, this this question actually came up in response to cheryl's example and this is from shrew me and they want to know a little bit about the social reward that you get so we're talking about the social media looking at your phone they say that you receive this reward from this particular habit no matter how small that you get and they're asking about what you think about the reward analysis approach is there a way for her to kind of get that reward of checking the e mail, checking the social media? How can that be filled if you're not actually looking at your phone? Yeah, so what I would say is that that by the time people really have this significant habit it's actually not rewarding anymore and so you know, I really I really want to harp on this first second, you know, we've a lot of people who write about habits and habit creation and haven't changed talk about the importance of rewards and and actually I I don't think rewards are as important as people have have led the rest of us to believe in the creation of habits and so let me just take a second and kind of elaborate on that because you'll notice I haven't really talked about rewarding yourself for stuff now it turns out that when you create a habit you're your brain is just looking for evidence that the action you took made some change in the environment right and when you've discovered that change in the environment than your brain sends a signal telling the habit system tto learn something so for example, if I walk into a room and I flip on a light switch even though conceptually I know that that what I'm doing is turning on the light that habit learning system ally brain which isn't really connected to the rest of it so well has just noticed an interesting change in the environment that occurred when I flip the light switch and the first time I do that I get that that signal wow something changed on the hundredth time I do it I don't really get that signal anymore because it's now utterly predictable that when I make this motion the light's going to go on but but the first time I get that signal now, when else might I get that signal? Well, imagine that I were a neuroscientist and I was studying the way rats learn toe press bars. So what I might do is to put an electrode into that area of the brain that gives off that signal I was just talking about. And lo and behold, that rat gets a signal when I give it that water reward when it, you know, when it's getting near the bar when it presses the bar and you could ask yourself, well, why does it get that signal? And you might assume that the reason for it is because that signal is correlated with the reward. Must be a reward signal. It must be telling me something about reward. It's not what it's really doing is telling the rat's brain something unexpected just happened. Learn that. Okay. Um, unexpected and not dangerous. Okay, um, so learn that, okay? And so that reward persists as long as the rat is getting this, this kind of is in a situation which it needs to learn something. And over time, we came to call that the reward signal because it's related to what neuroscientists are doing when they're giving room wards, but it's not really that it's rewarding. So in fact, when when, when you develop a habit for the first time, you know, now you may very well be enjoyable to check facebook the first couple of times you do it, at least, and even afterwards, it could be enjoyable, but but the habit piece of it has learned because you took actions, like pressing a button that caused an app to open that signal to your brain that a change happened that was worth learning after a while. It's not really rewarding toe open facebook in that way, it might be rewarding toe, you know, to check the social media stories and take taking to account that social media firestorm. But the habit learning system isn't really being rewarded anymore, and in fact, you can see this in in the way people deal with things like smoking behaviour. So presumably, when somebody starts smoking cigarettes, there is a reward associated with that nicotine acts on some brain circuits that that that that can be rewarding for people. But most people who have the habit to smoke are not smoking each cigarette because there's any reward associated with it whatsoever, it's just that they're smokers, they have a, they have a deep seated habit to smoke, and in fact, a lot of times you'll talk with smokers and they'll say, I really don't want to smoke any more, and I'm smoking because I smoke, right? And that's, really true, I think for a lot of these other kinds of habits as well. So in fact, we don't really need to worry that much about the reward that's associated with the behavior. What we need to do instead is just to disrupt the habit. Now, if I'm going to do something that is going to be a replacement for this facebook behaviour, for example, then it's gonna have to be something enjoyable. Primary, not so much because the reward is necessary. Teo get ah, habit created, but just because we don't like to do things that are unpleasant, right, and so were much more prone to do something pleasant than unpleasant just because it makes us feel at least not bad, right? So so I think, it's, you know, I think it's important to you know, if you disrupt that mapping the facebook and then engage in some other activities, then you know that's. That'll be kind of fun.