Why do we do we make the choices we do, even if we know they are not particularly healthy or safe? For the answer to that question, fire and life safety educators are turning to behavior change theory in the hope that, by shedding light on what motivates us to do what we do, they can boost their programs’ effectiveness.
Knowing why people make the life and fire safety choices they do “can be the difference between an educational initiative that falls flat and one that succeeds in creating a genuine behavioral shift,” say Karen Berard-Reed, a senior project manager for high-risk outreach in NFPA’s Public Education Division, and Andrea Vastis, a public health educator and consultant.
This is an important development in public education, they say, because too many public education programs rely on changing behavior solely by making audiences aware of risks. The challenge for safety professionals is to identify strategies that not only provide knowledge, but include attitude development and skill-building opportunities for participants. To learn more about the way public education professionals are responding to this challenge, read Berard-Reed and Vastis’ article, “Change Agents” in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.
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