Centre for Behaviour Change



The UCL Centre for Behaviour Change research focus is on the understanding of behaviour change and how to apply this understanding to addressing real world problems. Some real world problems include health-related topics such as smoking cessation, alcohol reduction, diabetes and weight management, as well as others such as cybersecurity, transport and pro-environmental behaviours. The CBC also conducts research aimed at advancing theories of behaviour change and methods for studying it.

Selected current Research Projects - Applied

CUSSH logo
Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (London Hub)

Funder: The Wellcome Trust

This project is led by Professor Mike Davis (UCL) with Professor Susan Michie as Co-Investigator. The project aims to bring about city-wide transformations to reduce carbon emissions and improve health in six cities; London, Rennes, two in Kenya and two in China. The team of 40+ will work with a range of stakeholders and decision-makers to understand systems that connect urban development and health and bring about transformative change.

Website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/environmental-design/research/research-projects/cussh

Researcher: Dr Jo Hale

Developing and testing the DAFNEplus intervention

Funder: NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research

DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) is a 5-day, group based training course for adults with Type 1 diabetes which has now been delivered to over 30,000 adults in the UK. The aim of DAFNEplus is to develop and convert DAFNE into a lifelong package to help people better manage their blood glucose levels long-term, as high levels can cause dangerous complications. Our recent research confirmed that after attending a DAFNE course, people have better quality of life, better glucose levels (in the short-term) and are admitted to hospital less often for diabetes emergencies. Although participants find DAFNE training useful, some find it difficult to continually implement the skills needed to maintain glucose levels to prevent diabetic complications. After the course, people also find it difficult to get support from health professionals. This work will help us develop better training for other groups (especially children and young people). 

Website: https://dafneplusresearch.wordpress.com/

Researchers: Dr Stephanie Stanton-Fay

Selected current research projects: advancing theories and methods in behaviour change

HBCP logo
The Human Behaviour-Change Project: building the science of behaviour change for complex intervention development

Funder: The Wellcome Trust

Human behaviour needs radical change to protect our individual and collective well-being. To achieve this, we need to develop more effective behaviour change interventions, tailored to the behaviour, population and setting. The Human Behaviour Change Project (HBCP), a Wellcome-funded collaboration between computer science (led by Prof John Shawe-Taylor at UCL and Pol Mac Aonghusa at IBM Research Ireland, behavioural science (led by Prof Susan Michie at UCL) and systems architecture (led by Prof James Thomas at UCL) has been advancing its work on algorithms to detect text in research reports and ontologies to organise the highly diverse evidence on behaviour change interventions. This project will build an Artificial Intelligence system to continually scan the world literature on behaviour change, extract key information, and use this to build and update a model of human behaviour to answer the big question 'What behaviour change interventions work, how well, for whom, in what setting, for what behaviours and why?

A particular highlight is the new Theories and Techniques Tool - an interactive online resource providing information about links between behaviour change techniques and their mechanisms of action. View the launch video here.

Website: https://www.humanbehaviourchange.org/

Behaviour Change Theories

A multidisciplinary literature review across the fields of psychology, sociology, economics and anthropology identified 83 theories of behaviour and behaviour change (Davis, Campbell, Hildon, Hobbs & Michie, 2014). These theories contained a total of 1725 constructs. Descriptions of each of these theories have been published as a compendium of behaviour change theories to provide a resource for researchers, policy makers and intervention designers (www.behaviourchangetheories.com; Michie, West, Campbell, Brown & Gainforth, 2014).  Many of these theories showed considerable overlap with each other, and most were partial and/or underspecified. This study has specified all 83 theories in terms of constructs and one of 14 relationships between those theories in such a way that they can be coded computationally, with the aim to use computational methods to create one or more 'canonical' theories representing the most commonly identified constructs and relationships.  

Website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/behaviour-change-techniques

Research Partnerships and Collaborations

The UCL Centre for Behaviour Change works closely with the Health Psychology Research and the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Groups based at UCL.