This week we look at ‘generation sensible’ in our Behaviour Change section, and at the importance of not skewing insight with a liberal bias. Plus, our Values Lab speculates on the values groups most likely to oppose hosepipe bans. And of course, there’s Charlie’s Attic, the bombardment of psycho-social water balloons with which we end our bulletin.
Also to flag, we’ve put on our website the chapter we wrote about community engagement for the LGA’s #FutureComms guidance – take a look here. And we’ve also posted the transcript and slides from a recent talk on social cohesion which we delivered to the Merton Partnership. Click here to have a read.
With crime, teen pregnancies and the use of booze, drugs and cigarettes down among 18-24 year-olds, youngsters were this week dubbed “generation sensible”. In effect, many of the harmful behaviours the public sector has been looking to change are…changing.
It’s hard to say how much credit those who have been trying to shift behaviours can take for this. Part of the credit seems to lie with a more abstract evolution in how young people live – and particularly with the role of technology. One report, for example, finds that youngsters ‘sext’ rather than having sex: a sure way to cut unwanted pregnancies! And the rise of this digitised, atomised generation potentially comes with downsides too, around status insecurity or anxiety.
Nevertheless, charities and public health organisations can take a decent degree of the credit, with a major revolution in awareness having taken place during the last few decades.
Asking the right questions
We were interested, this week, to watch this short C4 video of Trump supporters defending him – and particularly discussing his stance on Russia. It brought to mind this recent article, which suggests social scientists may have been ‘asking the wrong questions’ all along, in their efforts to understand authoritarian and dogmatic tendencies. The authors of research on the issue explain that “By making only small adjustments to a popularly used dogmatism scale, results show that liberals can be significantly more dogmatic.” In other words, sociological questions to gauge intolerance have tended to use left-wing versions of intolerance as their measure (e.g. intolerance of foreigners) rather than right-wing ones (e.g. intolerance of other political viewpoints).
From the perspective of day-to-day research, the article is prescient. When designing a survey of topic guide it’s vital to not impose your own value judgements. The article reminds us of the pitfalls of failing to do this.
With Britain’s long hot summer set to go on and on, we were amused by the recent Daily Star headline (above). It objects to the hose pipe ban, presenting a gloriously tabloid case for personal freedom over state intrusion.
We thought we’d put this concept into the values lab, using two statements which ask, in different ways, about the role of the state in making decisions that are in our best interest.
“Government is doing too many things that would be better left to businesses and individuals”
“It’s not the government’s job to protect people from themselves”
The findings are somewhat unexpected. The Daily Star’s readership has traditionally comprised socially conservative Prospectors, and we assumed that this values tribe – who often see things in terms of “taking down the barriers to success” – would agree most strongly. However, it’s actually Settlers who, in both cases, register the highest support – perhaps because they see things in ultra-local ways, and regard state regulation as a threatening imposition, not a form of collective protection.
It’s also interesting that Prospectors and Pioneers switch around when you frame the issue in different ways (as per our two statements). Pioneers are least likely to agree with deregulation when it’s framed in terms of business and individualism. But their civil libertarian instincts kick in when it’s framed as the government knowing what’s best for people.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the contraband paddling pool at the end of the barren drought that is TCC Weekly:
Find out how many matches it takes to form a full sphere.
Wince at this CEO of a bulletproof car company, taking shots from an AK47 while inside the vehicle, to prove his faith in the brand (perhaps the most high stakes endorsement since John Gummer’s BSE famous intervention).
Read the lowdown on the highly impressive ex-TCC’er Pancho Lewis, Labour’s first ever Mayfair councillor, who is, according to the piece, on “collision course” with Sadiq Khan” (who will blink first, we wonder?!)