Attitudes or Behaviour – which drives which?

The age old psychology question – do attitudes drive behaviour or does behaviour drive attitudes? Whichever model you favour, it seems clear that there’s a pretty complex interaction between the two.

We favour a research approach which starts with behaviour. We introduce new technology into people’s lives which has the potential to disrupt established habits and encourage experimentation – ways to do things differently. We then explore how people’s attitudes (and subsequent behaviours) are changed by the experience. It’s certainly easier than trying to persuade people to change their attitudes and it’s a lot more interesting and fun for everyone involved!

But here’s an interesting behaviour/attitude case from our current b-bug trial. We are loaning tourists a road-legal electric buggy for 3-5 days of their stay in the Brecon Beacons and monitoring the use they make of it and what they see as its potential value compared to a car.

Subject 1 (a motoring journalist from a National newspaper as it happens) had a b-bug for 4 days of his holiday. Here is the Satellite track of 15 of the 20 miles he did in the b-bug during his stay. The location was the field adjacent to the holiday cottage.

15 miles b-bug track in a 3 acre field

And his feedback at the end of 4 days? – “I’m afraid I don’t get the point of this vehicle”.

Here is a more typical subject from our trial (a lady in her 30’s camping with her partner). She had a b-bug for 3 days. Here is the satellite track of the 50 miles driven during their stay.

50 miles b-bug track from Priory Mill campsite

And her and her partner’s feedback at the end of 3 days?  “the b-bug made our holiday… we would have gone to places but the b-bug made going short distances worth the trip … it turns going somewhere into an event, doesn’t it. We loved it. It really did make us go out a bit more than we would have done otherwise

So, did Subject 1 think the b-bug was pointless as a vehicle so he only drove it round in circles on a field or did he only drive it round in circles on a field and therefore decide it was pointless?

And did Subject 2 think the b-bug was an interesting alternative to a car and so use it to explore the area and get to the pub each evening or did she drive it 50 miles to explore the area and get to the pub and therefore decide it was an interesting alternative to a car?

Curious, huh?

About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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