Changing Behavior Beyond the Here and Now
In this chapter we explore the behavioral science of how interventions work over time. We first discuss how interventions can be effective and generate desired target behaviors, even when there is a temporal gap between the time the intervention is administered and the time the target behavior is to be performed. We identify several features of interventions that affect their success at bridging these “intervention-behavior lags”. We then discuss how some interventions are administered repeatedly over time, and how each successive round of treatment may amplify the effect of the intervention. We identify some reasons why interventions may or may not generate “marginal benefits to continued treatment” (continue to be effective with each repetition). Lastly, we discuss why some interventions continue to produce long-term, persistent change even after the intervention has been discontinued. We suggest several possible pathways that may lead to the persistence of treatment effects overtime, even once the intervention has been removed. We draw on examples of interventions in health, energy conservation, education, marketing, politics, and consumer behavior to illustrate and explain how interventions can bridge intervention-behavior lags, how they can generate marginal benefits to continued treatment, and how they can generate persistent treatment effects once an intervention has been discontinued.