Influencing behaviours - moving beyond the individual: ISM user guide

A user guide to the individual, social and material (ISM) approach to influencing behaviours.


A number of reports on behaviour change and public policy have noted the importance of working across the range of different contexts that influence people's behaviours in order to achieve substantive and long- lasting change in the population's behaviours. The ISM tool is based on 'moving beyond the individual' to consider explicitly the social and material contexts that both shape and constrain people's behaviours. Many unsustainable behaviours are an entrenched or fast growing feature of everyday life. Addressing complex and multi-faceted issues, such as transitioning to a low-carbon society, requires creative and effective solutions, involving multiple stakeholders working across different contexts to implement a coherent and co-ordinated package of interventions. The ISM tool is designed to help achieve this: working collaboratively to define a problem, to identify solutions, and to deliver and evaluate interventions.

ISM has drawn on the latest behavioural science thinking, encompassing three disciplines, in order to develop a single practical tool to help design and improve behavioural interventions. In this way, ISM gets round the problem of which of the many behavioural models a practitioner should choose, because it brings together the main insights from across them all. However, those single discipline or behaviour-specific models and theories will still be valuable to focus in on particular behavioural issues or influences.

By bringing together all of the different contexts and factors that influence behaviours into one practical tool, it is hoped that ISM will help deliver more effective policies and strategies, resulting in lasting social change which benefits everyone.


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