Three Myths of Behavior Change – What You Think You Know That You Don’t: Jeni Cross at TEDxCSU

Jeni Cross is a sociology professor at Colorado State University. She has spoken about community development and sustainability to audiences across the country, from business leaders and government officials to community activists. As a professor and consultant she has helped dozens of schools and government agencies implement and evaluate successful programs to improve community well-being. In this talk, she discusses her work around changing behaviors.

This video was originally posted 3/14/2013 and received 481 views. This corrected version was posted on 3/20/2013.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, wher/e x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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  1. Lots of great insights here… but did she actually recommend saying that 75% of people reuse their towels in order to get 58% of people to reuse their towels? Hilarious.

  2. None of those posters have an effect. Not on the long term. It ignores the Class Warfare. People care about stuff that benefits them. And when you are enslaved, what benefits you the most, is to destroy your master, so you can be free. Littering, grafitti, laziness, piracy, etc. are forms of sabotage. A war waged by the slave against his master. Being lazy = being a worthless slave. The master will be forced to find another slave, who works more than you do. And you hope that this way he'll set you free. 
     Unfortunately, your master moves to China.

  3. Common sense is apparently Jeni Cross's greatest enemy: Every adult knows that they can't change other people's behavior by presenting them with logical information. What she presented as a supposedly-alternative choice is, in fact, what common sense is.

  4. but we have very bad air in our houses today, this air full of chemicals makes us sick, may be it's good that there is a gab like a basketball in your house and you get always better fresh air. 🙂

  5. Myth #1 I'd be surprised if ANYbody thought info would do anything. People don't care, so already… Ugh, whatever. Resumes watching

  6. The litter thing? Some places actually take away litter baskets because they say people are putting household garbage in them. They they act surprised when littering goes up because there are no garbage cans to put stuff in.

  7. I don´t believe this woman. Personally speaking, I put my garbage in wastebaskets because I see the problem. I don´t need to see an actress putting the garbage in a wastebasket to care about my world. Then again, I am not an average person. I might give a dollar to a poor person, because I see his need, not because I saw someone else giving him money. In fact, If I see someone else helping, I wouldn´t, precisely because he already got help.

  8. Yeah, I gotta call bullshit at 9:10. Attitudes and behaviors are in a feedback loop on a neurological level. You're just wrong if you think that either can't cause change in the other. Now I'm reluctant to send this video to my students, because she confidently stated something so-terribly-incorrect. 🙁 — which is disappointing, because much of the other information in the video is valuable, as long as she's not overstating her claims.

    Wait, wait, wait… now I'm watching the rest of the video — don't emphasize communication of attitudes, because "attitudes don't cause behavior", but DO try to connect to "values"? Why? To encourage better attitudes, and thereby encourage behavioral change? She just said attitude won't bring behavior. By that logic, should we not simply force people to do the "best" things, until their attitudes accept it? How would their values be relevant to changing behavior, if their attitude — which is the direct product of those values — isn't relevant?

    I know what she's trying to say — don't attempt to force attitudes onto people. Attitude must be influenced subtly (through values), and attitude often has a weaker influence on overall behavior than circumstances. But her overstatement/misstatement of these points is so extreme that I'm afraid the value of making them will be lost on nonbelievers.

    Also, 38 / 58 is almost 2/3 — i.e., you'll be 33% less effective (among CERTAIN GROUPS OF PEOPLE), not HALF as effective (which would be 50% less effective). She's judging the common sense of others, while demonstrating arithmetical illiteracy. Suspicion of her motives and her interpretations of data, seems warranted.

  9. Sociology – what is left as a career when you add up all those credits from basket weaving and the course in media criticism. I knew a guy who frequently crapped in his own pants whenever he sneezed. He ended up a sociology professor as well. His dad wanted to loan him the money to start a business selling pencils at the bus station but this way the taxpayers ended up fronting the guy's salary instead. Sociology careers are what happens to people who realise they just don't care any more what they do.

  10. Its interesting to see so many people operating on beliefs rather than the facts in judging this talk. What Cross is saying is pretty well mainstream psychology backed by research and by the neuroscience, which is even more interesting. Mass education programs work because of the advertising gimmicks that are used not the information (Bangladesh etc etc). Just because change is complex doesn't detract from her argument either. The reality is that people think that these three things work-and they don't.

  11. at the 9th minute i became disinterested. coz although she might be plausible and coherent..i felt that using pychology to change behavior feels unethical to me..present information honestly and let people decide.. manipulation even for a good cause does not seem right to me..people have to be persuaded about any issue.. even climate change..or the existence of god..i say speak your truth and live it and those wo like it can work it.. the ones that dont will learn when they want to..i think..

  12. the talk focusing on how to influence other to change.

    2:00 myth#1:education, link information to tangible image, 5:00 how to present information
    8:09 myth#2: change attitude, attitude follow behavior,setting behavioral expectations 10:12 connect to values
    13:11 myth#3: motivation, identify source– social norm,

  13. Education does change behavior. The number of people who smoke has been drastically reduces once people were educated about the real dangers of smoking. Currently only about 22-23 % of people in the United States smoke and this has changed the laws regarding where you can smoke and where you cannot, mostly you cannot smoke anywhere where people who don't smoke might be.

  14. Education doesn't change behavior…. unless that education is 1. tangible 2, personalized 3. socialized, 4. points out what their are losing 5. appeals to the particular audience. TRANSLATION: Education — when persuasive — DOES change behavior.

  15. Anyone who parents has, I hope, discovered that modeling social norms is the most effective way to change behavior. If you want to get a child to clean up their mess, start cleaning the mess and have them help. Kids follow the examples they are given, and adults are simply grown up kids. Makes sense!

  16. Watching some TEDx talks is like being required to sit through those presentations at work by overpaid "facilitators" droning on, offering nothing but useless, wrong, and/or worn-out platitudes packaged as brilliant and effective outside-the-box thinking.

  17. Our actions are guided by a combination of reason and emotion. Suggesting that our barrier to changing behavior is lack of proper information is the furthest thing from insightful that I have heard so far on TEDx

  18. It's a really good thing I don't have to rely on closed captioning or I would have NEVER gotten the gist of this talk."Refinance" = "raise your hands" and "turn up like really the rams" = "turn off the light when you leave the room." I don't know if it's YouTube or the people who create the videos but someone ought to pay attention to the closed captioning for people who DO need to rely on it.

  19. Stupid comparison between the 71% of drinkers who drink once a week and 77% of student body drinks. Saying "6% difference" is a big difference is stupid and shows a complete confusion about the data Jeni Cross herself described, apples and oranges comparison essentially.

  20. I had to stop at myth N1. Education is not about facts. Education is about understanding information and how to use it among other things. At least when it's done right.

  21. There is only 1 way to change yourself, 1 way to change your behaviour permantly. Your behaviour is a manifestation of your mind, you need to get rid of the bad states and negative parts of your mind. You need to know the nature of your mind, learn to overcome your inner demons. I have the key. Google TruthContest read the Present, it explains for the first time in history the ultimate Truth of life, ( the most accurate explanation of the big picture of life) It will explains how life works, and as a result your mind will gradually change towards the direction of the Truth. It is the way to change your mind.

  22. I respectfully disagree.

    I always adhere to the laws because I think it's best to act as if the whole world acts like you. "If I liter, and the whole world liters, we'd be buried in garbage" As simple as that. When I see a sign, I follow it, and it bothers me that some "choose not to" it's not really because the message wasn't appealing enough, it's simply because they decide that their action isn't important, that it wouldn't make a difference.

    A little here, and a little there. Aren't mountains made from little rocks. Don't belittle your part. Not a single act is little, nor a word, a gaze, or even a smile.

  23. "oh, you have a hole in your house the size of a baseball"… hmmm, problem with that logic is that it's alarmist which is also a turn off. You just start thinking "bloody chicken little!, sky is falling, sky is falling"". It just makes you dig in deeper.

  24. what she's basically describing here is psychological warfare! that you can affect someone through emotional and societal lack of norm !make anyone feel like they don't belong or that they're The Outsider, that could be blamed or harmed for an action, and they will stop doing it !but that is causing shame and fear not really creating change ! it's manipulation to one person's opinion of what should be like she said you can make them do what we want that's not really making them think that's controlling their thoughts and that's why it's psychological warfare! it's the same tactics used in World War II and World War 1 to control the mindset of another that everyone so upset about! it's basically mental slavery to create Mass Consciousness and a mob mentality at the same time when they really aren't the same thing! but none of this creates positive change because no one's thinking on their own therefore no one's creating their own opinion of what they should or shouldn't be doing they're just following the strongest and most forceful leader last time that happened it was Hitler and Castro so this really what you guys want to clearly works but is it the best option not in my opinion

  25. Jeni Cross is an SJW fascist bitch! First of all, her explanations of her slides are atrocious, as evidenced by her glossing over the posters about drinking. Dopes like her too often forget their audience is comprised of people who, for the most part, are unfamiliar with the material they are presenting. As the camera scanned that audience there were many expressions indicating they were unsure of her point. Having said that, the message it self is just the kind of big brother, totalitarian garbage that we must stay vigilant about fighting.

  26. So what Cross is actually conveying here, is that attitudes do not predict behavior. We do not need to change attitudes in order for people to participate in fruitful and beneficial behavior. I think that is a very important argument, that if true (as it is backed up by a lot of evidence however there is a lot of evidence showing that changing attitudes leads to a change in behavior also) it is very important in our modern soceity.

  27. How come Architechts don't routinely design Energy EFFIFIENT/SELF-Sufficient" Buildings?!….. They ALWAYS/routinely design building that WASTE Lots of energy, and cost the owners a lot of money over the life of the building, instead of MAKING Money!!! ……."D'oh!"….

  28. One thing about education is that. After the topic has been discussed. People will always have their opinion good or bad, and think that they can explain the topic better than the next person.

  29. Hopefully this is an accurate summary:.

    Myth 1: lack of education/information is the reason for irrational behaviour. Wrong. (behvaiour is more complex than this)

    Myth 2: need to change attitudes to change behaviour? no.

    Answer: Set behavioural expectations. It works. Also understand people's values.

    Myth 3: People know what motivates them? No.

    Answer: Social influence and social norms are a stronger motivator than we realise.

  30. Some criticisms for Jeni Cross. Although buildings represent 40% of American energy consumption, only half that is for residential buildings. Furthermore, residential building energy use is split between water heating, refrig, space heating, air conditioning, light, television and clothes dryers. Residential space heating in its entirety only represents approximately 3% of the national energy consumption. Showing a basketball may be effective, but plugging drafts is not really worth that much. Installing solar panels only to run the household refrigerators (7% energy consumption) during the day would be a far more cost effective way to save energy.

  31. So true ….Children LEARN what they LIVE …. Practice What We Preach !! CONVICTION PURPOSE & PERSONAL INTEGRITY PERSONAL INTEGRITY is a everyone's choice COMMITM3NT

  32. I dont completely agree. Social norms are a powerful and quite frankly a seductive motivator, but those with strong internal locus are not easily influenced. Boneheads like myself dont gauge myself and drive my behavior due to societal standards or pressures.

    That being said, of course I abide some societal norms (e.g. tipping, though I hate it), not a viva la rebellion guy always for the sake of it.

    May the force be with you all.

  33. What is difference between attitude and behaviour? I know the meaning of both the words but it's difficult to differentiate from the parent's example of turning of the lights. How is behavioural expectation different from attitude expectation?

  34. If what she says is true, she should have ended with "8 out of 10 of you will go and institute this in your life and bring about great change!"

    On that note…they do say that 96% of all statistics are made up on the spot…

  35. We think that if we show people how big a problem is they would stop doing it

    Myth 1 : Education will change behavior

    There are three kinds of ways that common sense leads us astray :

    +1: We think that if we were to change people's behavior we need to educate them.

    We are assuming that by providing the information we will fill the missing piece in the equation.

    Providing people with information is simply not enough. ! ! !

    How you present information makes a difference.

    1 One of the things that makes a difference is making information tangible.

    This helps people to understand the importance of a situation.

    -Example : you have a crack on the roof of your house as big as a basketball.

    2: The second thing that makes a difference is personalizing the information.

    3 : The third thing is Social interaction and this is one of the most important

    tools we can use for making a change.

    When you give people all of these three things you have three times better results.

    How you present your information triples the effectiveness of your effort.

    +2.Human beings don't like to lose things.

    if you tell people what they're losing they will engage in behavior just because

    you've told them what they're loosing.

    Hearing that you're losing is more likely to change behavior then hearing that your gaining.

    Framing loss can make a difference

    +3.Different audiences need different information

    You have to give a message that is appealing to the targeted audience.

    When you are talking to the people the information has to resonates to them and to also present the information that they in particular interested in hearing about.

    Knowing your audience is a key factor in making any change.

    Myth 2 : You need to change attitude to change behavior.

    Attitude follows behavior! attitude does not predict behavior!

    When people engage in the behavior you want

    you will be able to measure the attitude you expect

    but before that, you need to do something else

    Setting expectations work for all kinds of things.

    Set behavioral expectations !!!

    Don't change attitudes set behavioral expectations!

    Remind people to engage in a change of behavior that you want!

    If we're not going to change people's behavior by changing the attitude how do we deal with a tough issue such as climate change.

    How do we deal with that?

    We don't deal with that by changing anybody's attitude

    We deal with it by understanding what people's underlying values are.

    What is it that they really people care about?

    If you ask people, they will tell you what really matters to them.

    You must understand values, that's a whole different tactics then changing attitudes

    Myth 3 : People know what motivates them to take action

    One of the big things that influence our behavior is social norms.

    When some people are doing something other people are more likely to do the same or follow.

    Seeing somebody doing it is a better predictor that you will do it as well.

    Social norms are a great predictor of behavior.

    Social norms are the most understood and underestimated by human beings

    Social norms have the biggest impact on behavior.

    Social norms are the most influential

    Making effective change

    Make your change meaningful

  36. I think the only reason I got that answer right was because, as a child I used to study people's reactions to my actions and use my knowledge in order to entice favourable reactions that benefitted me exclusively with minimal work on my part. because I was a horribly manipulative person and still retain some of that knowledge though I rarely use it anymore.

  37. Momma raised me with one simple question. If your friends jump off a bridge are you gonna jump off a bridge too? The unspoken answer was yes. If they survived uninjured and had fun, then yes.

  38. At first, they begin to engage themselves in many things with full motivation.

    Everything appears to be exciting and meaningful, so they try to fill up their schedule with various activities.

    In turn, they quickly build up knowledge and experience.

    They meet new people and experience things they have never done before.

    They feel like they are making progress and feel a sense of pride.

    It doesn’t matter if this is actually true.

    They just believe that what they feel is true.

    This is exactly what the book 'Kit for Reaching Emotional Stability' is explaining about.

    You might just turn on a documentary show and as it reaches the end, it feels like you have learned something.

    But it doesn't matter whether you actually did learn anything.

    You just feel satisfied with yourself.

  39. Education doesn't change behaviour especially when you take cognitive dissonance into account. Even if people learn a fact they will twist it in a way to suit their narratives

  40. Climare change? Sure recycle, go nucler, use less, etc. As a society, our biggest problem is Moral change. Heterophobia lust, selfishness, pride, lying, and family abandonment is causing the most chaos.


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