Method Use in Behavioural Design: What, How, and Why?
Philip James Cash, Xènia Vallès, Ida Echstrøm, Jaap Daalhuizen


Behavioural design is an important area of research and practice key to addressing behavioural and societal challenges. Behavioural design reflects a synthesis of design and behavioural science, which draws together aspects of abductive, inductive, and deductive reasoning to frame, develop, and deliver behaviour change through purposefully designed interventions. However, this synthesis creates major questions as to how methods are selected, adapted, and used during behavioural design. To take a step toward answering these questions we conducted fifteen interviews with globally recognised experts. Based on these interviews we deliver three main contributions. First, we provide an overview of the methods used in all phases of the behavioural design process. Second, we identify behavioural uncertainty as a key driver of method use in behavioural design. Third, we explain how this creates a tension between design and scientific concerns—related to interactions between abductive, inductive, and deductive reasoning—which must be managed across the behavioural design process. We bring these insights together in a basic conceptual framework explaining how and why methods are used in behavioural design. Together these findings take a step towards closing critical gaps in behavioural design theory and practice. They also highlight several directions for further research on method use and uncertainty as well as behavioural design expertise and professional identity.

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