Changing Behaviors

As we said earlier, there are many behaviors and situations that we do without thinking of any ready-made responses or recipes.

There are many harmful or negative behaviors and attitudes around us that we have the desire to change, but the desire and goodwill to change these behaviors around us does not mean that we are ready for this change.

In the process of changing a behavior we do not delete a behavior and replace it with another behavior, the process is not that simple.

How do we benefit from the health curriculum in this process?

In the health curriculum, we say that in the event of the same behavior practiced by two individuals, we may need two different strategies to deal with these behaviors.

The process of change must be specific, and intentional to a large extent, and we stay away from generalities that may reduce or waste the impact that we create in behavior change activities.

In the health curriculum, violent behavior has a contagious characteristic. On the other hand, changing this behavior in a specific individual in the community has a contagious characteristic.

People expect an individual to perform a certain behavior in a certain circumstance, and when this individual refrain or changes their behavior, hesitations are created in people’s minds.

We cannot underestimate changing the behavior of one individual from the wide community that we have. The process will not stop when changing the behavior of this one individual.

In order to understand the process of changing behavior and for our activities to be useful, we must address one of the theories in changing human behavior, there are many theories and we will stop at the theory of planned behavior.

In this theory, we return behavior to the primary components from which it is formed. Understanding these components will help us in forming the appropriate activities for them.

We have 3 basic components of each behavior:

attitude towards behavior

Behavior, good or bad, has two main components:

– Beliefs associated with the results of a behavior, each behavior has certain consequences, and according to what a person expects from the results of his behavior, an attitude on the behavior is formed in him.

– Evaluate outcomes for positive and negative behavior

The previous two components make up a person’s attitude to a behavior.

Personal Criteria

These are standards related to the person who performs this behavior.

It consists of a set of standards within the community and the motives for compliance.

In case there is a behavior practiced a lot in the community, the person does not perceive a problem from practicing this behavior, and this abundance is considered a societal standard.

Compliance Motives: For every behavior we do, there are motives that cause us to comply.

Some of these motives may be subjective and related to ourselves. They may be the result of the needs that may be represented by what was mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy, the need for survival, the need for safety, the need for relationships, the need for esteem, the need for self-actualization, and the need for inspiration.

Or it may be motives that exist in the community that push the individual to do a certain behavior.

• Concrete awareness for the continuity of behavior with the individual.

• To what degree can a person control this behavior, if they want to do this behavior, can they continue?

• What are the possessions, abilities or skills that they possess to practice this behavior that if it was harmful or bad, they could continue with it?

These are the basic components of any behavior, and not dismantling a behavior to these primary components will make it difficult to change behavior or to form appropriate activities for that behavior.

For example, if we want to change a behavior, and the individuals who perform this behavior expect specific positive results from it and ignore or do not know the negative consequences of the behavior, our task is to show them a wider range of expected results.

In other cases, the doers of negative behavior may believe that the results of the behavior are positive, and it may suffice to prove to them that these results through verified means such as questionnaires and evidence that these results will return to them negatively.

On the level of normative beliefs within a society:

• In the event that individuals believe that the committed behavior is widely common within the concerned community, we may approach this by conducting a study that proves that the majority of people in the community reject the behavior. If we share these results with the doers of the behavior, their opinion may change and their belief that the behavior is acceptable and desirable in society.

• Continuity is the first ability to control behavior. Here we present the cases that they may encounter and they cannot complete practicing this behavior and leave many negative effects.

• How can we benefit from the theory of planned behavior?

When we break down behavior into its primary elements, it may help us design appropriate activities for the change process.

There are also other factors that influence behavior, such as external barriers

The individual may not be able to change their behavior because the peers around them create social pressure to conduct this behavior.

Activists involved in changing behavior must possess many skills, and not possessing the skills can constitute a barrier to this change.

According to the theory of planned behavior, we target two basic elements of behavior in order to change it

– Attitude and personal standards.

– Attitude and tangible control.

– Concrete control and personal criteria.

– We always target with activities two basic elements of the specific behavior and take into account the external barriers that can stand in every behavior change process that we undertake.

In the end, what do we understand from the theory of planned behavior?

There is no ready-made recipe, there is never a specific recipe for changing behaviors.

We may see specific behaviors in individuals and have specific characteristics and backgrounds that belong to them, but they differ in other individuals, therefore we must take this into account and come up with appropriate activities for the targeted individuals within the specific targeted community.

I hope that you have benefited from this theory, even if I have greatly shortened it. In the joint meeting, we can put forward certain behaviors and attitudes related to the time of the Covid pandemic or other behaviors and attitudes that exist in Syrian society at present, and we can have a discussion about it and suggest appropriate activities for it.