The TOPS Program
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Technical Guidance

This manual is a condensed reference guide. It is primarily intended for use by those who have been or are being trained in the Designing for Behavior Change (DBC) Approach. Each step in the DBC process is detailed below, with additional examples and resources in the Annexes. There are five principles of Designing for Behavior Change.

The five principles of Designing for Behavior Change

  • Action/Behavior is what counts (not beliefs or knowledge).
  • Know exactly who your Priority Group is and look at everything from their point of view.
  • People take action when it benefits them; barriers keep people from acting.
  • Activities should reference the important benefits and minimize the most significant barriers.
  • Base all decisions on evidence, not conjecture, and keep checking.

The Designing for Behavior Change (DBC) Approach was developed to help designers think more critically when developing and reviewing a Behavior Change strategy. Using the Approach starts with developing a DBC Framework. It is commonly used in the design phase or during project start-up. The DBC Framework can also be used at midterm if the expected behavior(s) is not changing or not changing at the expected rate. In these cases, researching barriers to change can create greater understanding, and be used to adjust project strategies and activities. Using the DBC Framework at the end of a project can help develop behavior change strategies for the next project or next phase.