Since the publication of the book Nudge, governments world-wide have become increasingly interested in behaviour change. Nudge was written not by behaviour analysts, nor even by psychologists, but by an economist (Thaler) and a law professor (Sunstein) and, following their lead, there has been a stream of further publications by other academics setting out to show that the most pressing health and social problems of our time can be effectively addressed only by changing people’s behaviour. So the message of behaviour change is at last getting through. But where are behaviour analysts in this enterprise? Are they among those helping to influence health and social policy? And, most crucially, are they playing their full and vital part in delivering programmes of behaviour change? This paper will consider how academic research can assist governments and other agencies to bring about large-scale and positive behavior change in whole populations. To illustrate key issues, it will examine the history of a behavior analysis-based programme designed to combat obesity and improve children’s eating habits internationally—the Food Dudes Programme. There are lessons that need to be learned from this and related enterprises, both within and outside behavior analysis, if we really are to change the world.
Review C. Fergus Lowe’s biographical statement.