The Behaviour Change Wheel

A Guide To Designing Interventions

Written by Susan Michie, Lou Atkins & Robert West

This is a practical guide to designing and evaluating behaviour change interventions and policies. It is based on the Behaviour Change Wheel, a synthesis of 19 behaviour change frameworks that draw on a wide range of disciplines and approaches. The guide is for policy makers, practitioners, intervention designers and researchers and introduces a systematic, theory-based method, key concepts and practical tasks.
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Welcome to the Wheel


Hover over any segment to reveal their definition. Click on segments to reveal their links. To find out more, buy the book.

Psychological Capability

Definition

Knowledge or psychological skills, strength or stamina to engage in the necessary mental processes

Example

Understanding the impact of CO2 on the environment

Physical Capability

Definition

Physical skill, strength or stamina

Example

Having the skill to take a blood sample

Social Opportunity

Definition

Opportunity afforded by interpersonal influences, social cues and cultural norms that influence the way that we think about things, e.g. the words and concepts that make up our language

Example

Being able to smoke in the house of someone who smokes but not in the middle of a boardroom meeting

Physical Opportunity

Definition

Opportunity afforded by the environment involving time, resources, locations, cues, physical 'affordance'

Example

Being able to go running because one owns appropriate shoes

Reflective Motivation

Definition

Reflective processes involving plans (selfconscious intentions) and evaluations (beliefs about what is good and bad)

Example

Intending to stop smoking

Automatic Motivation

Definition

Automatic processes involving emotional reactions, desires (wants and needs), impulses, inhibitions, drive states and reflex responses

Example

Feeling anticipated pleasure at the prospect of eating a piece of chocolate cake

Education

Definition

Increasing knowledge or understanding.

Example

Providing information to promote healthy eating.

Persuasion

Definition

Using communication to induce positive or negative feelings or stimulate action.

Example

Using imagery to motivate increases in physical activity.

Incentivisation

Definition

Creating an expectation of reward.

Example

Using prize draws to induce attempts to stop smoking.

Coercion

Definition

Creating an expectation of punishment or cost.

Example

Raising the financial cost to reduce excessive alcohol consumption.

Training

Definition

Imparting skills.

Example

Advanced driver training to increase safe driving.

Enablement

Definition

Increasing means/reducing barriers to increase capability (beyond education and training) or opportunity (beyond environmental restructuring).

Example

Behavioural support for smoking cessation, medication for cognitive deficits, surgery to reduce obesity, prostheses to promote physical activity.

Modelling

Definition

Providing an example for people to aspire to or imitate.

Example

Using TV drama scenes involving safe-sex practices to increase condom use.

Environmental Restructuring

Definition

Changing the physical or social context.

Example

Providing on-screen prompts for GPs to ask about smoking behaviour.

Restrictions

Definition

Using rules to reduce the opportunity to engage in the target behaviour (or to increase the target behaviour by reducing the opportunity to engage in competing behaviours).

Example

Prohibiting sales of solvents to people under 18 to reduce use for intoxication.

Guidelines

Definition

Creating documents that recommend or mandate practice. This includes all changes to service provision.

Example

Producing and disseminating treatment protocols.

Environmental / Social Planning

Definition

Designing and/or controlling the physical or social environment.

Example

Using town planning.

Communication / Marketing

Definition

Using print, electronic, telephonic or broadcast media.

Example

Conducting mass media campaigns.

Legislation

Definition

Making or changing laws.

Example

Prohibiting sale or use.

Service Provision

Definition

Delivering a service.

Example

Establishing support services in workplaces, communities etc.

Regulation

Definition

Establishing rules or principles of behaviour or practice.

Example

Establishing voluntary agreements on advertising.

Fiscal Measures

Definition

Using the tax system to reduce or increase the financial cost.

Example

Increasing duty or increasing anti-smuggling activities.

COM-B Capability - Physical COM-B Opportunity - Social COM-B Opportunity - Physical COM-B Motivation - Reflection COM-B Motivation - Automatic COM-B Capability - Psychological Intervention Function - Evironmental Intervention Function - Modelling Intervention Function - Enablement Intervention Function - Training Intervention Function - Coercion Intervention Function - Incentivisation Intervention Function - Education Intervention Function - Restrictions Policy Category - Guidelines Policy Category - Environmental / Social Planning Policy Category - Communication / Marketing Policy Category - Legislation Policy Category - Service Provision Policy Category - Regulation Policy Category - Fiscal Measures
It is often said that behaviour change is easy. It isn’t. But help is at hand. This excellent book provides a step by step guide on how to do it.
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre of Public Health, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
By setting out a systematic method for understanding behaviour, and linking this understanding to techniques known to change behaviour in a clear and engaging format, this book gives practitioners and policy makers a scientific approach to designing interventions that are most likely to be effective.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England
It is simply the best attempt I have seen to lay out a taxonomy of behaviour change, from characterising the behaviours to change, through the specific techniques to produce the change, to the contextualising factors.
Professor Ron Borland, Nigel Gray Distinguished Fellow in Cancer Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria
Michie, Atkins and West provide an excellent step-by-step guide based on their extensive experience and expertise, using their COM-B model.
Marie Johnston, Emeritus Professor of Health Psychology, University of Aberdeen
This book offers insightful, rigorous, and standardised ways to approach behaviour change intervention development, that once read, is astonishing in its clarity and usefulness.
Karina Davidson, Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Medicine, Cardiology, and Psychiatry, Columbia University