The Interaction Foundry aims to understand the psychology of behaviour in design contexts such that interventions can achieve their desired outcomes. Our work in 2020 focused on using theories of behaviour change to improve public health outcomes. We developed interventions for improving handwashing amongst low-income communities in Tanzania, and for reducing littering in dense urban environments.
Human behaviour affects how we interact products, systems, and services. As such, behaviours are important to consider throughout the design process as it can reveal the underlying insights that drive people to engage with a design solution. One way of understanding behaviours is behaviour setting theory. It explains how environments can affect people's behaviours - from the physical design of a space to how people occupy that space and use objects within it.
The Interaction Foundry wanted to test Behaviour Setting theory and therefore developed a canvas that can be used within the design process to understand the causal factors of behaviours. This canvas allows designers to add or remove behaviours from a setting, reinforce existing behaviours, or develop new and targeted settings.
We tested the canvas within low-income communities in Tanzania - where hand washing rates were typically low - and found that design intervention developed from the canvas significantly improved hand washing rates in the area. We also used the canvas with the charity Keep Britain Tidy to develop communication strategies that could reduce littering in city context. And lastly, we developed a cross-department module for Imperial College London that focused on behavioural design - using the behaviour settings canvas and other tools developed within the research group.