How does behaviour change happen? One answer is by using EAST. Read on to see how it works.
Think about all the times your bank, your car insurance, or your city council has asked you to get something done - say, a renewal reminder or donation requests. You can probably empathise when we say they don’t make it the most enticing of requests. These requests are often made boring and require you to jump through tons of hoops to complete. This is a problem - not just for you, but also for them. You both want the request fulfilled, but what can be done to make sure the process is easy, enjoyable and as quick as possible?
People spend most of their time on autopilot. This means people will often perform activities almost without thinking. Knowing this, behavioural economists from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) developed the EAST framework as a method to assist us in performing desired behaviours without the need for a person to really think about it.
(However, it is worth noting that the EAST framework is not often used on its own to change behaviour. It should be used in combination with other strategies that require deeper research about the behaviour and its target audience).
Developed in 2012, the EAST framework outlines four characteristics to successfully drive behaviour change. The four characteristics are: Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.
To help people successfully complete their tasks, an important characteristic is to make them easy, without obstacles. One technique is to have a default option. People tend to subscribe to the default option because it is the easiest choice to make. By making the desired behaviour the default option, people will more likely adopt the desired behaviour. Another technique is to ensure that messages are simple and easy to read, as difficult messages are more likely to be ignored.
For example: moving the fruit and vegetables to the entrance of a supermarket, making it easy for customers to purchase healthier food options.
People are more likely to adopt things that are known, and especially if they are desirable or attractive. Consider the use of advertisements: good advertisements stand out and use creative details that make you interested in whatever it is they are promoting. They could also use incentives, such as attractive prices or rewards.
For example, offering prizes to those who are able to answer questions correctly at the end of a presentation, encouraging audiences to pay attention to you.
Humans are social beings, so we tend to be influenced by other people's opinions or actions and often look for approval. By highlighting that a behaviour is common, popular, or already adopted by someone famous, individuals are more likely to adopt the same behaviour.
For example, sharing statistics to show the average cost of electricity usage in an Australian household, encouraging those who use more to reduce their electricity consumption.
To ensure people perform a desired behaviour, choosing the correct time is important. Most people follow habitual routines, and changing habits is not easy. However, these habits can be broken through major disruptions and changes that affect performing the habitual behaviour.
An example of making a desired behaviour timely is to ask customers to fill out a customer service form immediately after receiving service, increasing the likelihood that the customer will fill out the form.
It is also important to note that humans are often more influenced by immediate effects rather than future ones. Therefore, highlighting immediate benefits to a change can also increase the likelihood of a behaviour being adopted.
When changing behaviour using EAST, more than one characteristic can be used together. For example, your bank may request that you take a “short, 2-minute survey” immediately after using their services, providing you with a direct link to the survey you can access on your phone. This email uses two characteristics: Easy and Timely. It is timely because the request was made immediately after using their services when you are not busy nor can be distracted by other priorities. They have also made it easy as they have provided a direct link, removing any obstacles that you may face accessing the survey.
Nonetheless, as previously noted, it is important to note that the EAST framework is not often used by itself. It is mostly used in combination with other strategies that require deeper research about the behaviour and the target audience. According to Senior Research Fellow, Mark Boulet:
“The EAST framework is like a seasoning, like salt that you sprinkle over food. It increases the chances of tasting delicious, but it isn’t the main element of the dish.”
To conclude , the EAST framework offers a method of changing behaviour by making the behaviour Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely. Each characteristic can be used independently when implementing policy or other programs to change behaviour, or can be used in conjunction with one another. However, it is worth noting that the EAST framework is not often used on its own to change behaviour. It should be used in combination with other strategies that require deeper research about the behaviour and its target audience.
Interested in using EAST in your behaviour change project? Get in touch.
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