Posted on 25 April 2016
Encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices is one of the main problems facing society. However, behavioural change is notoriously difficult. Previous attempts where people are provided with information or education about the “right” thing to do have rarely succeeded. In the present age of technology, more indirect approaches, such as using computer games and apps, may have more success. However, there is little basic science identifying successful techniques and, as a result, they are not always effective.
Steve and Harriet’s research programme intends to look into these potential techniques. Their research is centred around how we perceive actions, such as observing someone picking up an apple rather than a packet of crisps. Previous research suggest that the more fluent an action appears, the more likely an observer is to make the corresponding choice. Steve and Harriet’s team will identify the most effective way to make use of this perception-action fluency to affect emotion and alter preferences and they will investigate how to apply these ideas (e.g., through the development of apps) to encourage healthy eating.