The importance of using behavioural science to create positive change within local communities

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Through our range of public health services, BeeZee Bodies has always aimed to bridge the gap between academic theory and real-world evidence. We do this by delivering community-based lifestyle services to support people in their journey towards a healthier life.  

Behavioural science is at the heart of our programmes, with interventions that have been designed with influences from various behavioural theories from fields such as psychology, sociology, and marketing. These are embedded throughout our services to create positive and sustainable change within local communities across the country. 

Traditionally speaking, when we think about behavioural science, we tend to focus on behaviour change from the standpoint of the observable behaviour itself. However, the science of understanding behaviour is intrinsically linked to understanding the context in which behaviours happen, and how they can be facilitated and promoted.  

Whilst some of our interventions have been informed by traditional behavioural science models, a lot of our work focuses on the elements that facilitate behaviour change and experiential outcomes. We call them ‘Pre-cursors’.  

Pre-cursors that underpin behaviour 

In order to change behaviour, and call it an ‘intervention’, you first need a ‘behaviour’ in mind. For example, reducing the portion size of a meal.  

Many of the elements of our services are not directly about ‘reducing the portion size’ – they are more often about creating conditions that generate and enhance motivation, and keep people coming back, which are prerequisites for the more direct behaviour change interventions – pre-cursors. 

Rather than solely focusing on supporting behaviour change as an organisation, we find it valuable to understand the different contexts in which behaviour change can happen – and use this approach to build connections with the children, young people, families, and adults who take part in our programmes.  

If we think about typical strategies to support people within weight management and healthy lifestyle programmes, the focus tends to be on pre-defined aims – for example, develop techniques to improve physical activity, reduce body fat, or eat more fruit and vegetables.  

However, rather than only providing people with pre-set goals that require ‘large reserves of willpower’, we support and empower them to implement changes to their environment or situation that helps them meet their goals.  

Three examples of Pre-cursors: 


We believe that ‘comfort’ is a key pre-cursor and that when present, behaviour change is more likely to happen.  

In our programmes, we attempt to design and create strategies that promote being comfortable with the physical and online environments, as well as with the group dynamics.  

By creating the context and surroundings that promote ‘comfort’, we reduce any possible element of awkwardness of joining a group-based intervention, while supporting people in their personal journey towards a healthier life.  

2. Relatedness 

Wanting to relate to other people is a basic psychological need. We believe that people are more likely to engage with our interventions if they can relate to our resources, content and delivery teams.  

By developing tailored resources and incorporating different culturally sensitive narratives in our weekly programmes, we are on a journey to making our interventions more relatable to the communities who take part in them.  

We’ve worked closely with local communities to understand the importance of ‘relatedness’ in behaviour change and by creating these elements, we increase the likelihood of positive behavioural outcomes, and reduce the likelihood of people rejecting our messages altogether.  

3. Sense of belonging  

We believe that people are more likely to engage with our interventions if they experience a ‘sense of belonging’ towards the group and our organisation. This pre-cursor stems from our social and emotional need to affiliate with and be accepted by other members of a group.  

In our programmes, we attempt to promote interventions that elicit a ‘sense of belonging’ through understanding one’s sense of culture and nostalgia. This is particularly important when planning and designing healthy eating interventions for multicultural and intergenerational audiences. 

Ultimately, we are working towards creating content, resources and services that make people feel like ‘they belong’. 

Start with where people are, not where we want them to be 

Behavioural science in general, and behaviour change interventions in particular, are more effective and meaningful if they are planned, developed, implemented and evaluated alongside the people they are aimed at.  

For that reason, we place significant importance on our continuous insight gathering and community engagement work. We believe this is central to understanding hyperlocal pre-cursors for behaviour change and working with local communities to develop behaviour change interventions.  

It is important to reiterate that none of these pre-cursors happen in isolation; they are connected and influenced by one another, and all have a role to play in the wider system of behaviour change.  

It can be likened to the style of play developed by Spanish football team, Barcelona, known as Tiki-Taka Tactics. To achieve a successful outcome (score a goal), every pre-cursor (individual player) has a different role. This role might vary in different contexts (games), but they are all part of a system where they influence each other and the final outcome. 

To find out more about how we create real, long-lasting change in local communities through our programmes, visit the BeeZee Bodies website here

31 January, 2023