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Targeting hypocrisy to promote healthy behavior

Most people hold the belief that they are better, kinder, smarter, and more ethical than average. However, how we think about ourselves doesn’t always align with our behaviour. Our behaviour often conflicts with our beliefs resulting in psychological discomfort also known as cognitive dissonance. And as we, as a human species, really don’t like this discomfort we will unconsciously try to alleviate this by changing our behaviour or by rationalizing our actions.

Because cognitive dissonance is such a strong force for behaviour change, researchers looked into how they could use this to promote healthy behaviour. They found that the most effective way to promote healthy behaviour is by addressing hypocrisy; and confronting individuals with their own beliefs and actions. But how can we facilitate this process?

One study set out to urge young adults to use condoms. Participants first had to describe instances where they didn’t use condoms. Then, they prepared speeches advocating condom use and delivered them to high school students. By highlighting the inconsistency between their actions and beliefs, the researchers aimed to prompt behavioural change.

In a follow-up study, they found that 83% of participants who were made to feel hypocritical about their safe-sex practices bought condoms.

Realizing that you are not practicing what you preach can cause tension within people. This sting of hypocrisy can motivate individuals to make positive behavioural changes, such as practicing safer sex, helping others, completing homework, taking shorter showers, or going to the gym more often. How can you target hypocrisy to promote healthy behaviour? For example, teachers could ask their students to define what makes a good student. They can have students write their definitions down and display them on the classroom wall. Let’s see what happens next…

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Author

Kim Pillen

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Kim Pillen

Consultant

Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips, bol.com, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff

Researcher

Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.

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Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist