Designing to Support Behaviour Change

Why this is important?

Human behaviour plays a key role in social, economic and environmental issues, and the way that people behave is altered by contextual forces, including the built environment. This suggests that design is influencing human affairs in both positive and negative ways whether or not it is intentional. However, there is an opportunity to use design to help address these issues, thus putting designers in a crucial position.


Designers are being called on to improve health and well-being, encourage economic growth, and lower the carbon footprint in their projects. The results have been inconsistent. Since there are many actors affecting a project’s outcome, it will help to better understand what designers originally intend. What do designers assume about human behaviour and how to influence it?



Examination of existing environments does not account for changes made by others before the final product is completed, thus not answering the question. An experiment monitoring the process as designers address behaviours requires time and funding that are not currently available.


Interviews with designers of environments, namely architects, are being conducted in a way that allows expression of their ideas for existing projects as well hypothetical designs. Some interviews are also being conducted with those having experience in psychology in relation to design.


Research highlights

  • The strategies of architects’ are translated into assumptions about human behaviour and how to influence it
  • The above assumptions are analysed and compared with human behaviour theory from psychology as well as human behaviour models from design

Opportunities for engagement

If you are interested in this project please contact:


Jayné Franck

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