Go EAST: How to Increase Uptake on Your Activities
Changing behaviours is at the heart of what we do at Active Devon. Helping someone make the choice to be more active may sound simple, but with so many demands on our time and attention we have a limited window to get the message through.
For people to truly take the message on board we need to make sure our activities change behaviours, even with limited exposure. This is where the EAST framework comes in.
The EAST Framework
The challenge of encouraging a behaviour is not unique to the activity sector. Central Government often has to encourage important behaviours such as enrolling in pension schemes and paying road tax. To this end the Behavioural Insights Team developed the EAST framework. This framework says that if you want to encourage a behaviour, you should make it Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.
Easy is about making an activity as hassle free as possible. By reducing barriers, no matter how small, you will open the activity to those who are on the fence. A good example of this was a park yoga series Active Devon funded over summer 2019:
By setting the requirements for participation to ‘turn up to a park with comfortable clothes and a towel’, it reduced the effort required to give yoga a go.
Along with reducing hassle, it is important to simplify messages. Make it clear what people have to do, and what they should expect in return.
Attractive is about making the activity capture people’s attention. Activities should stand out and offer something that sticks in your head. Part of making an activity attractive can also be around the rewards. Runs often offer medals and t-shirts for participants. This reinforces the feeling participants are receiving something for taking part.
Making activities social is about using others to reinforce the behaviour. This could be utilising networks to promote the activity.
Word of mouth recommendations are still one of the most effective methods of promotion.
Another social technique is based around making a commitment to others. Telling someone you are going to attend an activity can be a powerful motivator for actually attending.
Finally, if you can show that the activity is popular it is likely to get more attention. The converse of this is be careful not to advertise the prevalence of inactivity. If you make inactivity sound like a social norm, people will be more likely to be inactive.
This is about prompting people when they are most likely to be receptive. People are more likely to develop a new habit when their routine is already disrupted. This often happens due to a major life event.
The recent Social Prescribing movement has taken advantage of this, if people are at the doctors, they are likely to want to make a change. One of our ambassadors Louise has had first-hand experience of this when talking with her pain doctor.
Being timely could also be in the form of a reminder a few days before an activity or event, as this is when people know they will have to take action.
Uptake and Lasting Impact
By contemplating the four aspects of EAST when designing activities and interventions you will improve both uptake and lasting impact. While this post has focused around physical activity, EAST has been used to promote many different changes in behaviour.
If you are interested in learning more you should read the full report by the Behavioural Insights Team here.
“EAST should lead to services that are easier and more pleasant for citizens to use, and more effective and cheaper too.” David Halpern Chief Executive, The Behavioural Insights Team
Tim Howard – Data and Insight Officer