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Experiments in Context Change

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Behavior Design
For Better Health




            Experiment in Context Change
                        Jenny Hong (jyunhong@stanford.edu)
                                             October 2012
+
    Introduction

    This past week, I undertook three changes in my environment to
    see their (hopefully positive) effect on health behaviors

    Change #1: Placed phone and laptop on ground so I remember
    to stretch to get them in the morning.

    Change #2: Lay out floor exercise equipment by wardrobe.

    Change #3: Switched my meal plan from 10 meals/week
    (minimum) to 19 meals/week (maximum) in dining halls
+                    Problem: I like to stretch in the morning, but
                     sometimes I instinctively check my phone
                     in a rush and get on with my day.

Change #1: Morning   Goal: I can’t get to my phone without
                     stretching.
stretch
                     Procedure: Put my morning checklist
                     materials on the ground, so I get into a
                     stretch position (reaching for my toes) just
                     by reaching for them.

                     As expected: I see my phone on the
                     ground and remember to stretch. Success!
+                                     A single stretch is a great domino action
                                       for a whole stretch routine.

                                      The placement didn’t force me to stretch,
Change #1: Morning                     but it reminded me to do something easy
                                       and (relatively) painless that I already
stretch                                wanted to do.
Surprises! There were more
changes in my behavior than just   In terms of behavior as a function of
what I had targeted.               motivation, ability, and a trigger, (B=MAT)
                                   this was changing only the trigger.

                                      I now check my phone in weird stretch
                                       positions.

                                      Extensions? I could do this with more
                                       objects for triggers throughout the day.
                                       For instance, put my pencil pouch on a
                                       high shelf
Problem: There’s
                                                                           a lot of set up
                                                                           required to do mat
                                                                           exercises—
                                                                           change
                                                                           clothes, place to
                                                                           sit, etc.


                                                                           Goal: Exercise as
                                                                           soon as I think to
                                                                           do it, without extra
                                                                           effort spent to set
                                                                           up.




+
    Change #2: Floor exercises
    Procedure: Instead of cleaning up after I finish exercising, I lay a
    new set of clothes out in the same spot.
+
    Change #2: Floor exercises

                   Results                             Surprises!
       Floor exercises became               I learned that part of what made
        easier, all I had to do was sit       pushups and sit-ups so hard to
        down (all my stuff was ready!)        do for 3 Tiny Habits was the
                                              dirtiness of the floor.
       In terms of B=MAT, I increased
        my ability. Seeing the clothes       I go through clothes more
        was also a bit of a trigger.          quickly  either get more
                                              clothes or do laundry more

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Experiments in Context Change

  • 1. + Behavior Design For Better Health Experiment in Context Change Jenny Hong (jyunhong@stanford.edu) October 2012
  • 2. + Introduction This past week, I undertook three changes in my environment to see their (hopefully positive) effect on health behaviors Change #1: Placed phone and laptop on ground so I remember to stretch to get them in the morning. Change #2: Lay out floor exercise equipment by wardrobe. Change #3: Switched my meal plan from 10 meals/week (minimum) to 19 meals/week (maximum) in dining halls
  • 3. + Problem: I like to stretch in the morning, but sometimes I instinctively check my phone in a rush and get on with my day. Change #1: Morning Goal: I can’t get to my phone without stretching. stretch Procedure: Put my morning checklist materials on the ground, so I get into a stretch position (reaching for my toes) just by reaching for them. As expected: I see my phone on the ground and remember to stretch. Success!
  • 4. +  A single stretch is a great domino action for a whole stretch routine.  The placement didn’t force me to stretch, Change #1: Morning but it reminded me to do something easy and (relatively) painless that I already stretch wanted to do. Surprises! There were more changes in my behavior than just In terms of behavior as a function of what I had targeted. motivation, ability, and a trigger, (B=MAT) this was changing only the trigger.  I now check my phone in weird stretch positions.  Extensions? I could do this with more objects for triggers throughout the day. For instance, put my pencil pouch on a high shelf
  • 5. Problem: There’s a lot of set up required to do mat exercises— change clothes, place to sit, etc. Goal: Exercise as soon as I think to do it, without extra effort spent to set up. + Change #2: Floor exercises Procedure: Instead of cleaning up after I finish exercising, I lay a new set of clothes out in the same spot.
  • 6. + Change #2: Floor exercises Results Surprises!  Floor exercises became  I learned that part of what made easier, all I had to do was sit pushups and sit-ups so hard to down (all my stuff was ready!) do for 3 Tiny Habits was the dirtiness of the floor.  In terms of B=MAT, I increased my ability. Seeing the clothes  I go through clothes more was also a bit of a trigger. quickly  either get more clothes or do laundry more
  • 7. Problem: My eating schedule becomes increasingly irregular and increasingly unhealthy as the quarter progresses. + Method: I changed my Stanford meal plan Change #3: from 10 to 19 dining hall meals per week. Meal plan This means I have zero meal plan dollars for late night dining, Axe and Palm, etc. As expected…  I eat during dining hall hours, at regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I eat a greater and healthier variety than I did at late night, Axe and Palm, and Olive’s.
  • 8. I naturally sleep more regularly, getting hungry around breakfast time. +  Less tempted for unhealthy late night snacks Change #3:  I know I will eat as soon as I get up Meal plan…  No meal plan dollars! surprises!  No excuses to work through meals.  More opportunity to grab meals with classmates; pro-social behavior change  Dining halls are farther  walked more
  • 9. + Conclusions For the first two behaviors, mental triggers were not enough: environmental facilitation and triggers streamlined the process. The tasks at first seemed easy enough, but they could be made even easier! Stretches and exercises have a variable duration—it was very easy to extend a routine once I got it going.