Behaviour change briefings

The British Psychological Society's Behaviour Change Advisory Group (BCAG) works to provide expert advice on behaviour change in the context of public policy. It co-ordinates production of Society publications on behaviour change issues and supports our responses to consultations on related topics. It provides an expert interface between the Society and government and other policy making bodies in relation to behaviour change issues.

The chair and 12 members of the group are drawn from across the different Divisions and Sections of the Society. They are experts on behaviour change in different domains.

Behaviour change briefing portfolio

This is a series of short briefings aimed at emphasising the role psychology can play in achieving behaviour change. Each of these briefings is designed to focus specifically on the role psychology can play in addressing a societal issue. This portfolio is freely available and is aimed at policy-makers and opinion formers. It will also be of interest to researchers and practitioners.

Read the introductory leaflet

Click on the headings below to read the individual briefings.

Making better decisions

This briefing paper was published for the 2016 party conference season and looks at patterns of thinking that can get in the way of making better decisions and proposes changes to political culture that would help politicians overcome them.

Voter apathy 

This briefing paper was published for the 2016 party conference season and contains a three-stage plan to help politicians improve their relationship with the electorate and boost turnout at elections.

School attendance, exclusion and persistent absence

This briefing focuses on four key domains behind persistent absence from education; including emotional, physical health, attitudinal/ systemic and school behaviour-related domains. Highlighting the future risks to children and young people from educational disengagement, the briefing pulls out what psychology can offer and makes recommendations for policy makers to improve school attendance.

Energy conservation

This briefing focuses on energy conservation within the context of climate change. Highlighting the challenge facing policy makers of trying to reconcile individual attitudes and perceptions regarding the most energy intense sectors and their place within them; emphasising that whilst climate change is a global challenge, it is crucial that individuals understand the role they can play in ameliorating the problem.

Physical (in)activity

This briefing focuses on the current societal challenge around ensuring more people engage in regular exercise. Highlighting the issue that whilst most people are aware of the benefits of regular exercise, large numbers do not do sufficient exercise to enjoy the physical and psychological benefits it can provide. This briefing points to a series of psychological-based tools which can be used to motivate individuals to do more.

In a BPS audio interview lead author Dr Mark Uphill explains that in order to utilise sucessfull interventions to encourage people to be more active we first need to understand why some people engage in exercise beyond health reasons.

Tax and tax compliance

This briefing on tax and tax compliance highlights the ‘hidden economy’ of tax evasion. The briefing focuses on three alternative models of solving the problem of tax evasion; i) behavioural economics and nudging, ii)insights from cognitive and social psychology around tax perceptions , tax morale, fairness and justice and the role of social norms, and iii) co-determination between customers and government. It also makes recommendations for future action to assist in tackling this problem.

Personal debt

Focusing on debt held by individuals, this briefing looks at the challenge this presents to society today. The briefing is primarily focused on how psychology can help answer three questions; How do people get into debt? What are the psychological impacts of being in debt? How do people get out of debt? It also makes a series of recommendations for action which could assist in reducing levels of personal debt.

In a BPS audio interview lead author Professor Stephen Lea considers how personal debt is a such corrosive influence in some lives, especially young people's, it can be correlated with and probably a contributory cause to clinical levels of depression.

Members of the Behaviour Change Advisory Group

  • Professor Stephen Sutton (Chair)
  • Professor Stephen Lea
  • Claire Hardy
  • Dr Dennis Nigbur
  • Professor Chris Armitage
  • Professor Alan Lewis
  • Professor David Uzzell
  • Dr MarkUphill
  • Brian Apter

Useful links

The BPS Impact portal is a searchable database enabling you to view peer-reviwed submissions of excellent psychological research that has either already achieved some degree of impact or that has significant potential to do so. 

Our influence

UK parliaments & assemblies