Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior. People choose products not because of what they are but because of where they are. Any behavior can be changed with the right environment.
Researchers shared an example from a hospital. The hospital noticed that people were buying a lot of soda. They went in and added water to every place there were drinks. The environment was changed. Soda sales went down by 11.4% and water increased by 25.8%. The change of environment changes the behavior.
Environment promotes our behavior.
Despite our unique personalities, certain behaviors tend to arise again and again under certain environmental conditions. In church, people tend to whisper. On a dark street, people act wary and guarded. The most common form of change is not internal, but external; we are changed by the world around us.
Kurt Lewen a psychologist in 1936 wrote this equation:
Behavior is a function of the Person in Their Environment
B = f(P,E)
Think about impulse buying. The environment triggers when a shopper sees a product for the first time and visualizes a need for it. The shopper didn’t want the product but they purchased it because of how it was presented to them.
Forty-five percent of all Coca Cola sales come from end of aisle racks. You didn’t go into the store to pick up a Coke. When you push your cart by the end of the aisle, you pick up the Coke. They pay a lot of money to change your environment.
We drink Starbucks because they are on every corner. We assume we chose it. Rather, many actions we take each day, like drinking Starbucks, are shaped not by the purposeful drive and choice but by the most obvious option.
We don’t have to be the victim of our environment, we can architect it. Every habit is initiated by a cue and we are more likely to notice the cues that stand out. It is easy not to do certain things as there is no cue to trigger the behavior. It’s easy not to practice the guitar when its under the bed. It’s easy not to read the book when its on the shelf in the guest room. It’s easy not to take your vitamins when they are hidden in the cupboard. Creating obvious cues can draw your attention towards a desired habit.
Ask yourself, am I contributing to the environment?