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Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science

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To date, most behavior change frameworks for addressing OD have focused on relatively conscious, “reflective” drivers of behavior, including people’s emotions (e.g., pride, shame), rational knowledge (e.g., of germ theory), social norms, and explicit action plans (e.g., commitments to change; see Sigler, 2014).

Using the framework popularized by Kahneman (2011), these factors can be described as “System 2” drivers of behavior (i.e., relatively conscious and motivational factors). It is now well established, however, that human behavior can also be heavily influenced by “System 1” drivers (i.e. relatively automatic, cue-driven drivers; Marteau et al., 2012; Wood & Neal, 2015). System 1 factors of particular relevance to OD include people’s hygiene habits (e.g., mindlessly repeated behaviors cued by context) and “nudges” (i.e., small changes to the environment that can channel decision making and behavior in new ways, Thaler & Sunstein, 2008).

This WSP working paper draws on basic scientific findings from psychology, cognitive science, and behavioural economics to propose a framework of 8 System 1 Principles to support the initiation and maintenance of OD behavior change. In doing so, it builds from the general framework advanced in the World Bank Group’s (2015) World Development Report: Mind, Society, and Behavior, which emphasized three core insights from behavioral science, namely that people think (a) automatically, (b) socially and (c) using mental models that channel their decision-making.

Date: 25 October 2016