Using technology to change consumer attitudes to buying illicit goods In this feature l serious organised crime l fake goods l improving behaviour Would consumers buy illicit goods if they knew they might be funding terrorists and gangsters? The Scottish authorities believe technology could be used to change peoples behaviour, to cut a major source of income for serious organised crime and create a better society. TS Today finds out more F ighting the scourge of counterfeit and illicit goods which funds serious organised crime (SOC) is about more than targeting the crooks. What if there was a technological answer to reducing the publics desire to buy such products one that could help cut serious crime while improving the lives of many of the most vulnerable in our society? Next spring, Scottish authorities hope to launch the search for that solution, by using a pioneering, scientifically led approach to changing consumer behaviour. Through an initiative called CivTech, Detective Inspector Frank McCann and Chief Inspector Mark Leonard, from the Safer Communities Specialist Crime Division at Police Scotland, have set technological experts a challenge: to develop a tool that not only monitors patterns and trends in the purchase of illicit products, but also sends real-time messages to discourage the public from buying them. Trading Standards Scotland and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are funding the project initially. Organised crime includes drugs, violence and money laundering, as well as various forms of fraud such as cigarette smuggling and tax fraud human trafficking, metal theft, bogus workmen and cybercrime.1 Police investigations relating to bogus workmen and doorstep crime found that the average age of victims is 81. Most are women who live alone and after a crime of this type victims suffer more rapid declines in health than their non-victim peers.2 CivTech is the first pan-public sector tech accelerator of its kind, and was set up by the Scottish government to harness innovation to tackle public sector problems and challenges. Its current projects are diverse, and range from devising a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments, to improving global perceptions of Scotland. The National Wildlife Crime Unit is also using CivTech to combat offences carried out against protected birds of prey. It is hoped that a successful outcome in relation to counterfeiting and illicit goods will have the potential to change peoples lives and, in some cases, even save them. ExtRINSIC motIvatIoN v INtRINSIC motIvatIoN Money, fame, grades and praise are all or rewarding people for doing something when something in the physical examples of extrinsic motivation, which removes their innate desire to do it on their environment grabs the individuals attention refers to behaviour that is driven by external own. You must punish/reward every time to (sensory curiosity) and when something rewards. This type of motivation arises from get them to do it about the activity stimulates the person to want to learn more (cognitive curiosity) outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic Control: People want control over motivation principles, values and beliefs Intrinsic motivation is when people are which originates inside the individual. Extrinsic driven to do something because of themselves and their environments and motivation has some drawbacks: the positive feelings it generates within want to determine what they pursue Its not sustainable as soon as you themselves. Factors that increase intrinsic Cooperation and competition: Intrinsic withdraw the punishment or reward, the motivation include: motivation can be increased in situations motivation disappears Challenge: People are more motivated where people gain satisfaction from you get diminishing returns if the when they pursue goals that have personal helping others and in cases where they are punishment or rewards stay at the same meaning that relate to their self-esteem able to compare their own performance level, motivation slowly drops off. To get when performance feedback is available, favourably to that of others the same motivation next time requires a and when attaining the goal is possible but bigger reward not necessarily certain Curiosity: Internal motivation is increased It hurts intrinsic motivation punishing Recognition: People enjoy having their accomplishment recognised by others, which can increase internal motivation Nudge theory Focus on the supply of illicit products only limits the issue temporarily After many years in the police force, McCann is no stranger to crime be it serious, organised or petty. Up until his coming retirement in December this year, he is responsible for delivering the Divert and Deter strands of Scotlands SOC Strategy. Divert is, essentially, about education, while deter is concerned with identifying vulnerabilities in systems and processes that enable and facilitate serious organised crime, so that we can target these, McCannexplains. Our approach is to divert people from becoming involved in serious organised crime and using its products, with the help of social psychology, applied behaviour analysis, nudge theory and intrinsic motivation. It may sound far removed from boots on the ground trading standards enforcement, but finding behavioural strategies to nudge people to behave differently has been gaining traction for several years in the UK, and around the world. The theory is that small changes made by individuals can like the butterfly effect have a major impact on wider society. For instance, an American study in which consumers were given an incentive to save energy improved their behaviour, even when the incentive was not delivered, and the behaviour was sustained. The US health service, meanwhile, got patients to fill out their own appointment cards in a successful attempt to get them to attend appointments, changing them from passive to active participants. positive change The best way to influence positive changes in attitude and behaviour is to encourage the active participation of those concerned. Focusing on the supply of illicit products only limits the issue temporarily, McCann says. The CivTech project will focus on the demand the supply feeds. As any trading standards officer knows, changing peoples behaviour in the long term requires more than telling them not to buy fake goods or smuggled tobacco because of the dangers of such products. While useful, good intentions and information are not enough. Telling people that smoking damages their health does not work; studies have found that 36 per cent of smokers hide health warnings on cigarette packets. But what if you explained to consumers that by refusing to purchase those knock-off cigarettes, they were protecting not only their personal health, but also their community and society as a whole? As McCann explains, heart patients who have double or quadruple bypass operations used to face a very simple choice: stop eating unhealthy food, smoking, drinking and working too much, or die. However, citing recent research by Dr Dean Ornish3, McCann adds: Two years after the operation, only 10 per cent of these heart patients managed to stick to their new habits strong evidence that negative motivation does not work. Dr Ornish created a programme where heart patients were instead taught to appreciate life, rather than fear death. They practised yoga, meditated, had anti-stress counselling and followed a healthy diet, all aimed at making tHE poWER of pERSuaSIoN them enjoy life more goal-oriented, bespoke Getting people to move from passive to and incentivised. Two years later, 70 per cent active involvement causes them to participate of the patients had maintained their new in improving their own behaviour. Attitudes lifestyles. associated beliefs and behaviours towards an When even the threat of death cant make object can be changed through persuasion. people change their lifestyle sustainably, it Factors that can affect the persuasiveness of a becomes clear that motivation based on message include: avoiding something is simply not as effective target characteristics: This refers to the as motivation based on achieving something. person who receives and processes a Empowerment McCann wants to help consumers become more active in their decisions, rather than being told what to do. If they are presented with the consequences of their actions suchas the money they pay for illicit goods finding its way into the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS they may feel empowered to take a stand by refusing to buy those products, he says. He uses the example of how anti-social youth behaviour in Iceland has been reduced significantly by giving youngsters alternative paths to follow. Twenty years ago, Icelandic youths were among the heaviest drinkers inEurope; now they are the cleanest living, thanks to a radical, evidence-based approach a kind of enforced common sense. The authorities in Iceland set about trying to understand why young people were drinking and taking drugs, and they found that much depended on how they were coping with stress. The government decided to provide a variety of natural highs and required the youngsters to participate in a huge programme that offered sport, music and arts activities. They also set a curfew for under-16s, and parents were charged with spending more time with their children. message. It seems that more intelligent people are less easily persuaded by onesided messages. There is some evidence that people of moderate self-esteem are more easily persuaded than those of high and low self-esteem levels Source characteristics: Examples are expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness. The credibility of a perceived message has been found to be a key variable message characteristics: The nature of the message plays a role in persuasion. Sometimes presenting both sides of a story is useful to help change attitudes. When people are not motivated to process the message, the number of arguments presented in a persuasive message will influence attitude change, and a greater number of arguments will produce greater attitude change Cognitive routes: A message can appeal to an individuals cognitive evaluation to help change an attitude. In the central route, the individual is presented with data and motivated to evaluate the data and arrive at an attitude-changing conclusion. In the peripheral route, the individual is encouraged not to look at the content, but at the source for example, adverts that feature celebrities, doctors and experts Hi-tech diversion The radical approach changed Icelandic societys patterns of behaviour and so Iceland itself changed. Just as those teenagers were steered away from drugs and alcohol, the Scottish authorities hope CivTech can find a hi-tech way to divert consumers away from illicit goods. 1,2. 3. Scotlands serious organised crime strategy Dean Ornish, MD; Larry W. Scherwitz, PhD; James H. Billings, Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease, 2007 Credits This article was written by Helen King, a writer for TS Today. Images: iStock.com / Believe_In_Me To share this page, in the toolbar click on You might also like Changing tracks, TS Review, page 30 of April 2017 edition.