As ever, we think Kurt Lewin’s behavior equation, his simple model of human behavior, is excellent. It’s simplicity helps make it memorable, but belies a great insight into what affects how people behave.
The key premise that people are affected by both their internal factors (P) and the external factors around them (E) seems, like many great ideas, totally obvious once you’re aware of it. And perhaps it is. Even so, it’s still excellent. Of course, the time we spend in the various environments we inhabit also shapes who we are as people (P), so the cycle of influence is complex.
Some of the key take-aways from this model are to do with the importance of shaping environments to affect behaviors. Designers and influences throughout the world do this, often with an aim of getting you to spend more money (e.g. placing cheap, sweet snacks near the check-outs in shops) though sometimes more benevolently (like designing buildings with lifts that are less obvious than their stairs).
There are lessons all of us as individuals can learn from Lewin’s Behavior Model in relation to designing our own environments. These lessons span our physical environment (where one of the best ways to make sure you eat healthily is to not buy unhealthy food) to our social environments where it’s been shown that our behaviors will “norm” to those adopted by the wider group. Hanging around with a lot of people who eat healthily and exercise, will probably mean you too exercise more and eat healthily.