Research Topic

Methodological, Theoretical and Applied Advances in Behavioural Spillover

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About this Research Topic

Psychology and allied disciplines (e.g. behavioural economics, marketing and management) have established a range of techniques for understanding and changing behaviour. These interventions tend to focus on individual behaviours, rarely considering the dynamic relationships between behaviours. Yet, there are ...

Psychology and allied disciplines (e.g. behavioural economics, marketing and management) have established a range of techniques for understanding and changing behaviour. These interventions tend to focus on individual behaviours, rarely considering the dynamic relationships between behaviours. Yet, there are several theoretical and empirical strands of research dealing with secondary behavioural effects. For example, work on response generalisation, rebound effects and moral licensing (to name but a few) all variously describe how changes in one behaviour can have knock-on or ‘spillover’ effects on other behaviours.

Understanding secondary behavioural processes is both a scientific and societal imperative. Scientifically, behavioural models and theories can be improved by considering behaviour beyond the narrow focus of a single action and offering a more systemic view of behaviour change. Societally, it comprises the potential to design more cost-effective and powerful interventions to change a suite of behaviours or lifestyles in order to help address urgent societal and environmental problems, such as climate change and obesity.

The aim of this Research Topic is to unite contemporary research into behavioural spillover so as to improve the conceptual coherence in the field and to produce a step-change in understanding and theorizing of this area; shedding light on the underlying psychological mechanisms and principles underpinning effective intervention design.

This Research Topic will seek to publish articles investigating behaviour spillover in a number of forms and contexts:
a. Spillover within behavioural domains (e.g., recycling and avoiding packaging within the ‘waste’ domain);
b. Spillover across socio-spatial contexts (e.g., home and work; home and holidays);
c. Spillover across behavioural domains (e.g., health to environmental behaviour),
d. Designing effective behaviour change/spillover interventions

Under each of these themes, we will seek to publish articles that critically explore both theoretical and empirical aspects pertaining to spillover processes, including the conditions under which spillover can and does occur, interventions that have successfully produced spillover effects, as well as examples of where spillover was absent or negative. Indeed, while we are primarily looking for evidence of when spillover occurs and how we might seek to better understand and promote it; we are also interested in developing more of an appreciation of when things ‘backfire’, or where possible positive spillover is stymied (e.g. by compensatory beliefs, rebound effects, etc.)
This Research Topic will seek to draw upon a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods (e.g., card sorts; interviews; surveys; focus groups; behavioural modelling; online, lab, lab-field and field experiments) to triangulate evidence for behavioural spillover.


Keywords: Spillover, Rebound, Backfire, Behaviour, Psychology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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