Define behavioural goals and objectives
What is it?
Developing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) behavioural goals and objectives.
It might be useful to think about goals as being broader than objectives. It is essential that clear objectives are set and progress is monitored against them. A number of objectives can be developed to achieve an individual aim or goal. More >
Objectives can be divided into:
Cognitive objectives – focused on learning, knowledge and beliefs. Interventions may be directed at changing the target audience’s knowledge of a particular issue, such as the benefits of early cancer screening.
Affective Objectives – focused on feelings and emotions. Recent campaigns have aimed to help people appreciate the negative impact of smoking on babies and children, and therefore on the feelings of adults.
Connative – focused on actual behaviour (or 'doing'). Although intermediary objectives may be cognitive or affective in nature, the primary objectives of social marketing interventions need to be connative, that is, they are ultimately about influencing and sustaining positive behaviour. More >
This figure illustrates some broad behavioural goals related to target audiences exhibiting current or potential positive and negative behaviours.
Behavioural analysis – linking behavioural goals to segmentation
Why do this?
First, we need to set behavioural goals that we hope to achieve in our target audience behaviour. Second, it is useful to set specific objectives to help get us there. More >
- Objectives provide a sense of purpose and shared understanding. Clear, well-designed objectives are a means of communication among stakeholders who can appreciate what the intervention is trying to achieve
- They can provide a source of motivation for those involved in designing and delivering the intervention. This also depends on the nature of the objectives. SMART objectives motivate. Poorly set (or unrealistic) objectives will de-motivate
- They should provide a clear direction against which to make effective decisions, such as those relating to resources
- Without clearly stated objectives at the beginning of the process, it will be difficult to monitor and evaluate effectively
- Without objectives it is difficult to compare and benchmark interventions and, therefore, to develop an evidence base
How might you do this?
You might find it useful to gather information about objectives from previous activities focussing on similar challenges and target markets. These will provide a guide or benchmark as to what is realistic and achievable.
Many of the behavioural end-goals (stop smoking, recycle all possible materials) may not be feasible for some or all of the target audience. If the ultimate goal is not immediately achievable, consider intermediary behaviours as objectives, allowing the end result to be reached via a series of smaller, more achievable steps. More >
Behaviour tree analysis breaks down behaviours into sub-groups or clusters. For example, a person is more likely to be able to resist a before-lunch snack if they perceive an allowed reward at lunch time. Or it may be relatively easy to recycle some materials, such as glass, for some residents where bins are provided, but not other materials, such as plastics.
Recognise the realities of people’s lives when setting achievable objectives, and consider important elements such as time and frequency. More >
For example, time and frequency are features of many interventions dealing with addiction. Imagine being told (as a heavy smoker) that you can never have a cigarette again or (as a confirmed couch potato) that you must exercise every morning.
Make sure that your objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound)
Developing SMART Objectives
Objectives should not be open to different interpretations. They should be explicit about what will be done, where it will be done and who will be involved. They should also be stated so that everyone knows what is to be achieved.
They must relate to behaviours and attitudes that can be measured in some way, such as statistics, observation or research.
Although good objectives should stretch our capabilities, they should be achievable with the available resources. They should also be agreed by relevant stakeholders.
Will the objectives lead to the desired results? Also are they realistic – (similar to achievable).
The beginning and end date should be clearly defined.
Regularly review your objectives and keep a record of changes and why these were necessary. More >
Although longer-term objectives should not be changed as a matter of course, it may be necessary to amend them in line with changes in the environment, such as new legislation or economic trends.
Stay focused on behavioural goals and objectives so that the overall purpose of the intervention remains on course.
Clarity among stakeholders as to what is to be achieved.
A clear basis for further planning, development and evaluation.
Well designed objectives consistent with the SMART approach.
A breakdown of the overall goals into manageable objectives which are specific to the behaviour of the target audience/s.
One PCT set two overall objectives for their programme:
- To increase the number of breast, bowel and lung cancers diagnosed with no spread by July 2010 by 5%.
- To increase the proportion of breast, bowel and lung cancers diagnosed via the 2 week referral system by July 2010 by 8%.
These objectives enabled the PCT to develop a comprehensive evaluation programme to monitor the progress of the intervention.
For examples of other key indicators you can measure which will help monitor and evaluate your programme go to the Guide to Evaluation/Monitoring Indicators.