Behavior Modification

Whether we look either at a child, society, organization, city or culture, we may observe certain behaviors, especially possibly destructive behaviors, that we would like to change or modify.

For example, we may find that cars are driving too fast for safety on a particular road and try to change the driving behavior of motorists. This can be done through education on the dangers of speeding or posting additional signs posting speed limits. More effective signs, including those that tell the motorist what his vehicle’s speed is and what is the current speed limit may reduce average speed on a road. Some trucks have speed limiting devices that do not allow the vehicle to drive faster than the posted speed limit.

Experiments can be conducted on similar roads to see which one is most effective in reducing the average vehicle speed on the road.

Or, a manufacturer may want people who buy from a competitor to buy that manufacturer’s brand. Say, from buying a competitor’s laundry detergent to buying the manufacturer’s own laundry detergent.

The manufacturer wants to modify purchasing behavior. The manufacturer may do this by providing a product that costs less but is more effective in cleaning an item of clothing. Or the manufacturer increase advertising to a targeted audience to make sure that potential customers are aware of the brand.

The manufacturer can test a series of messages to see which message is most influential in changing purchasing behavior.

In a hospital, we may want to observe the operating behavior of surgical teams by measuring the long-term outcomes of patients. For example, in one situation, any member of the surgical team may call a halt to the surgery if that member believes that the patient may be harmed if the surgery is allowed to continue. In another situation, only the primary surgeon has the authority to halt the surgery.

In a city or state, we may want to observe voting behavior by age, race, gender, neighborhood, political orientation, income, social status, or other socio-demographic characteristic. Voting behavior may refer to whether or not a person is registered to vote, whether the person votes, what issues or candidates for which the person votes.