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What should be the focus of 'behaviour change': Individuals or society?

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Purpose

This article discusses the contemporary notion of 'behaviour change' and how it is causing divisions between those disciplines and practitioners who use approaches that are grounded in individualist worldviews, and those who are led by approaches that emphasise the importance of social realms.

Design/methodology/approach

By likening this dichotomy to the problem in physics of wave-particle duality with respect to light, it is argued that both views may hold some truth, and that neither approach is likely to be adequate for fully addressing the problems at hand.

Findings

Given the choice of two alternate means of understanding behaviour and trying to bring about change in the world, it is necessary to consider which approach is best suited to achieving results on the scale demanded by the environmental and public health challenges we face, and whether the individualistic approaches, that currently seem hegemonic, pose undue risks to achieving society's desired aims regarding challenges such as climate change, air pollution and obesity.
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Keywords: BEHAVIOUR; BEHAVIOUR CHANGE; ENVIRONMENT; INDIVIDUALISM; PRACTICES; PUBLIC HEALTH; SOCIAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2017

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