What is it?

It is a clear understanding of what causes and influences the problem or negative behaviour, and what causes and influences the desired or positive behaviour.

Why do this?

This is done to gain rounded insight into the influences which might cause the target audience to change. By simply focusing on the problem, and how to influence it, you can miss the potential to build, reinforce and strengthen the desired behaviour. More >

How might you do this?

Gaining an understanding of behaviour requires insight and often involves the knowledge and experience of a range of people. These include health and other professionals and those who live and work with the target group. Additionally, research findings should help to clarify the nature of behaviour. A clear description of both the desired and problem behaviours will help to create a shared understanding and focus.

You might want to:

  • Split the team into two groups (depending on numbers), one to focus on the problem behaviour and the other on the desired behaviour. More >
  • Be sure the behaviour you are linking to each target audience makes sense. More >
  • Try to clarify what the behavioural change actually requires of the individual. More >


Remember that understanding what influences the desired behaviour is as important as focusing on the problem behaviour.

Help people draw on their own experience to describe what they think influences a behaviour. More >

Recognise that there are a huge range of different theories and ideas about what influences behaviour. Try to involve a mix of people with different perspectives, experiences, skills and ideas. More >

Try and be clear about what theories you are drawing from to inform the intervention, as it will help in the subsequent review and evaluation. More >


An action plan for further information collection if necessary.

Current behaviour checklist.

A checklist of relevant theoretical approaches for understanding the target audience(s) behaviour.

Intended Outcome

An understanding of the nature of the challenge and desired behaviours.

An understanding of the causes of positive and negative behaviours.

A shared understanding of the theoretical perspectives adopted by team members.