SXSW 2014: Transform Community Behavior with Digital Design

By | 2016-11-04T16:57:50+00:00 March 13, 2014|Innovation, SXSW, Video, Viewpoints|

Is it possible to change the behavior of entire communities into healthier living?

In this session, entitled Transform Community Behavior with Digital Design, Colt Whittall, VP at Isobar and Greg Stielstra, Engagement Strategist at Healthways explained how an effectively designed program that uses proven techniques can actually result in a community adopting healthier behaviors.

Originally, Healthways partnered with Dan Buettner, a reporter for National Geographic, who identified the 5 top places in the world where people live the healthiest, called Blue Zones. Together, they created a digital program that leverages Buettner’s learnings on the best health choices and how to apply these in an impactful way into communities in the US.

One of the most impactful techniques to change behavior is loss aversion, which is based on the principle that people are more motivated by the fear of losing something (eg, losing a particular health attribute) than by the reward of gaining something (eg, gaining better health). Another technique is based on how commitment is gained. More specifically, when people are made to take action to show commitment, such as checking a box or verbally affirming their responsibility to another person, instead of simply agreeing to do something mentally, the effects are up to 3 times more effective.

These principles have been so successful that following a test run of Blue Zones in Orange County, California, Wellmark partnered with Healthways in 2011 for the implementation of Blue Zones in Iowa to help people lead healthier lives.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Change people’s behavior with loss aversion and actionable commitment techniques

About the Author:

Robert Palmer
EVP, Digital Innovation Officer

One Comment

  1. Rob Buccino March 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    It’s great to see how insights from the rapidly-growing field of behavioral economics, such as recognition of the power of framing consequences in terms of health losses to be averted rather than health gains to be achieved, are beginning to enter the mainstream of health care marketing.

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