In the last blog I pointed out the hidden subtext of trying to encourage behaviour change through using a negative approach, the avoidance message, where people adopt a behaviour to avoid something worse.

X < Y

Where X is the ‘unpleasant’ thing they don’t want to do right now, but it might help them avoid Y, the far worse thing.

There’s another problem with this… it’s probably not just X. That implies X is a one-off thing. You don’t just make one payment into your savings, you don’t just attend one class, you don’t just get one early night, you don’t just sacrifice one evening of alcohol, or one cigarette, or one take away. You don’t recycle one glass bottle, spend one evening revising, work one overtime shift…

It could be 100X or 1000X, or more. You might need to do X repeatedly over a really long period of time to avoid Y.

Maybe they just can't be compared.

Need any more convincing this isn't a good approach? Surely you'd be better off making X more desirable.