07:36pm Saturday 21 October 2017

Understanding habits key to sustainable behaviour

Cycling is a sustainable habit

A member of the Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group in the UK, Professor Bas Verplanken of the University of Bath has focused his research on habits and how to influence them for over 15 years. He is visiting BehaviourWorks Australia in July to share his expertise on habits and collaborate on research and programs designed to foster environmentally sustainable outcomes.  

BehaviourWorks Australia, a collaboration between the Monash Sustainability Institute, EPA Victoria, The Shannon Company and Sustainability Victoria, brings together interdisciplinary researchers with leading practitioners who share an interest in behaviour change research and environmental sustainability. 

At two seminars in Melbourne, Professor Verplanken will speak on the primacy of understanding habits to any attempt at behaviour change. He will provide tips on measuring the strength of habits, how to break and create them, and maximising the chances of success by strategically timing behaviour change attempts.

Professor Verplanken said habits can become vulnerable at ‘moments of change’ in our lives, such as moving house, starting a new job, or entering a different lifestage.

“Many of our everyday behaviours are habits that are undertaken without much thought or deliberation. But when the previously stable contexts of these behaviours changes, our habits become vulnerable,” Professor Verplanken said. 

“The timing of a behaviour change intervention can therefore be just as important as its content. We have a greater chance of both breaking and developing habits at certain moments of change, so it’s an ideal opportunity to try to encourage new water-saving, energy-saving and waste reduction behaviours.”

Director of BehaviourWorks Australia, Dr Liam Smith said he was delighted Professor Verplanken was bringing his expertise to Australia.

“Habits are one of the biggest challenges facing our environmental sustainability aspirations. They are so prevalent in our lives that traditional approaches to behaviour change may not always work,” Dr Smith said.

“I encourage anyone interested in influencing environmental behaviour and sustainable action to attend one of the seminars.”

Professor Verplanken will present the seminar, ‘If you don’t understand habits, how can you hope to break them? The challenges and opportunities of habits to encourage sustainable living’ twice during his stay in Melbourne.

12.30 – 1.30pm, Monday 23 July, Lecture Theatre S11, Building 25, Monash University Clayton campus.

5.30 – 6.30pm, Tuesday 24 July, The 242 Telstra Conference Centre, 242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Spaces are limited, so if you would like to attend one of these events, email james.curtis@monash.edu by 20 July 2012.


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