With everything that is going on in the world, I have been trying to escape by spending ridiculous amounts of time on Instagram reels and YouTube.
I noticed a few YouTube channels that I bet are great at changing people’s behaviour. A big advantage of YouTube videos is that they are free, and you can go back and rewatch videos as many times as you like and re-absorb the content that shifted your thinking.
I did some research earlier this year on the effectiveness of digital media for behaviour change, and some of the topline findings (some references below) in the field are:
Here are a few of my picks for what I think could be good behaviour change YouTube channels. I haven’t looked into any studies that measure the behaviour change potential of these specific channels. However, based on the reading I’ve done on digital media and my general knowledge base, I’ve listed their potential behaviour change elements.
Probable behaviour change elements: Improves financial literacy skills and self-efficacy through re-attribution training, verbal persuasion, public commitment, and goal setting.
Caleb interviews and audits guests’ finances and then gives them advice on how to get out of the financial trouble they find themselves in.
I like this channel for several reasons. First, I think that Caleb is an incredibly empathic person and has a genuine desire to help people. He is also knowledgeable, and when he doesn’t have an answer, he invites other experts to pitch in and help the guest. His channel also highlights the companies that prey on people’s vulnerabilities and get them in financial trouble. I think that people in the US and some parts of Europe can learn a lot about financial literacy in a very simple and easy way through vicarious learning thanks to this channel.
Probable behaviour change elements: Improves knowledge on complex topics through discussion and elaboration.
Tom interviews guests who specialise in many realms and covers a broad range of topics. The interviews are often very long (over 2 hours).
I think this channel is great because Tom often presses on confusing points until they become clear to him, and hence to his audience too. He will at times also offer alternative words or rephrases sentences to clarify specific points. His approach is humble and makes the viewer feel like he is a learner just like them, making the content more absorbable. I think this channel is a great way to learn about entirely new fields that one may not know much about. There is also a podcast version.
Probable behaviour change elements: Improves financial knowledge, attitudes and skills through discussion, arguments, self-reevaluation, and goal setting.
Nischa is another financial literacy channel that is focused on giving tips and advice on how to be smarter with money. She covers a wide range of topics related to financial planning.
The content in this channel is very valuable as Nischa shares her own story but also makes the world of finance approachable to a wide audience, including women of colour and young people. She shares concrete examples of how she goes about her decision-making process. She asks questions that would prompt people to rethink their decisions around their finances, and shares tools to help people take the next steps in their financial planning.
Probable behaviour change elements: Improves self-efficacy and building better habits through guided practice, counterconditioning, and planning coping responses.
Half Size Me is a weight loss and weight loss maintenance channel, that has an online community and a podcast. The recent channel uploads focus on tips and advice on how to manage common pitfalls and challenges people face on their weight loss journey.
The videos have an interesting design because they are categorised into topics that people commonly struggle with, such as battles with the scale not moving in the right direction. The channel’s focus is on forming new habits and focusing on these positive habits, rather than on the scale. It is consistently doing the habits that will deliver results. I can see the content of these videos being a go-to for people, especially to gain reassurance that they are on the right track. The fact that there is an online community and relatable stories to listen to probably makes the set of Half Size Me products very powerful at long-term behaviour change.
What are your favourite behaviour change digital media sources? Share them with me here!
Lutkenhaus, R. O., Jansz, J., & Bouman, M. P. A. (2020). Toward spreadable entertainment-education: Leveraging social influence in online networks. Health Promotion International, 35(5), 1241–1250. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daz104
Massey, P. M., Kearney, M. D., Rideau, A., Peterson, A., Gipson, J. D., Nianogo, R. A., Bornstein, M., Prelip, M. L., & Glik, D. C. (2022). Measuring impact of storyline engagement on health knowledge, attitudes, and norms: A digital evaluation of an online health-focused serial drama in West Africa. Journal of Global Health, 12, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.7189/jogh.12.04039
Olamijuwon, E., Clifford, O., & Adjiwanou, V. (2021). Understanding how young African adults interact with peer-generated sexual health information on Facebook and uncovering strategies for successful organic engagement. 1–15.
Raftree, L. (2019). Digital and social media for social and behavior change communication. March, 1–52.
Waldman, L., & Amazon-Brown, I. (2017). New Digital Ways of Delivering Sex Education: A Practice Perspective. In IDS Bulletin (Vol. 48, Issue 1, pp. 1–6). https://doi.org/10.19088/1968-2017.102