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#CHANGE! Can reading this blog change your behaviour?

People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.’ Rob Siltanen

8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year, killing over 1 million marine creatures.[1]

Car use causes over 7 million premature deaths every year due to air pollution, whilst also breaking down communities and making us more selfish and individualistic.[2]

Each minute, 28 girls are married before they are ready[3]; women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria.[4]

Does any of this sound right to you? If not, what is it that will motivate you to change your behaviour and by consequence, the world? Can reading this blog, for example, prompt you to change your behaviour?

The answer (though hard to believe) is actually YES.

According to recent research[5], asking people direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer questions about the future, speeds up their readiness for change and prompts them to change their behaviour. It’s called the ‘question-behaviour effect’ and here’s how it works:

If I ask you: ‘Did you know that cars cause over 7 million premature deaths per year?’ and you say ‘no’ and I then ask you ‘Knowing this now, will you reduce your car usage?’ saying ‘no’ would make you feel uncomfortable. The fact is that you know that reducing your car usage is the right thing to do and represents the better version of yourself you want to be, yet your real self uses the car every day, even (as most car users do) for journeys less than 5 miles long.

So, in the moment, to ease your discomfort, you're likely to answer a question in a way that affirms your better self. It turns out, that acknowledging your intention to change, increases the likelihood that you will.

Research shows that by answering a yes or no answer, especially online (or via pen and paper) doesn’t allow for clarification (excuses). Typically, people will find excuses for their behaviour: ‘I’m really busy at the moment and it takes too long to take the bus / we have a lot going on right now and it’s just easier to use the car…’

So rather than telling people or ourselves that they (or we) need to change their behaviour, asking direct questions about how they intend to act in the future could be a more effective way to bring about the world change that’s needed.

So – if I tell you that my first study on behaviour #CHANGE! could help us tackle some of the sad statistics above, will you participate?

Yes? Well here it is, it will take one minute of your time: The #CHANGE! Survey Part 1.

Next week, as part of my #CHANGE! series, I’ll be looking at whether we can use the New Year as a more successful vehicle for world #CHANGE! and how we are more likely to sustain the changes we know we need to make.

If you have any stories, theories or ideas on #CHANGE! and would like to be involved in this exciting project. Join the conversation @benitamatofska or mail me:



2 Driven to excess: Impacts of Motor Vehicles on Residents


4. UN Women

5. Science Direct: A meta-analytic synthesis of the question–behaviour effect


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