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Understanding Hard to Maintain Behaviour Change: A Dual Process Approach by Ron Borland

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Chapter 4

Environmental influences: the context of change

People typically live in environments where OS processes generate undesirable options to HTM behaviours too frequently, and/or does not have capacity to regularly generate or maintain HTM behaviours without continual assistance from the ES (see Figure 2.1). This means environmental change can be an important means of shaping behaviour, although within the limits of OS sensitivities.

Modern society has become pretty good at reducing some of the adverse effects of the natural environment, including mitigating many natural threats. We now live in homes that provide good protection from the environment and can heat or cool them to increase comfort. We no longer have to hunt for food, but merely go to the local shops. Most people in developed countries now live in cities, where even aspects of the physical environment (e.g. parks and gardens) are managed to maximise utility and minimise threats. All of this activity has been good for human health. People in developed countries live on average longer than in just about any other society.

However, the good has come with undesirable side effects: more people are becoming obese as a result of a combination of less need for physical exertion and an excess of food. The huge energy demands required to achieve the increased comfort and convenience may also not be sustainable; so, we should be prepared for a possible need to readjust our lifestyles towards the more demanding ones we have ...

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