Network interventions for changing physical activity behaviour in preadolescents

Network interventions can help to achieve behavioural change by inducing peer-pressure in the network. However, inducing peer-pressure without considering the structure of the existing social network may render the intervention ineffective or weaker. In a seven-week school-based field experiment using preadolescents' physical activity as a proxy for estimating behavioural change, we test the hypothesis that boys' and girls' distinct networks are susceptible to different social incentives. We run three different social-rewards schemes, in which classmates' rewards depend on the physical activity of two friends either reciprocally (directly or indirectly) or collectively. Compared with a random-rewards control, social-rewards schemes have an overall significantly positive effect on physical activity (51.8% increase), with females being more receptive to the direct reciprocity scheme (76.4%) and males to team (collective) rewards (131.5%). Differences in the sex-specific sub-networks can explain these findings. Network interventions adapted to the network-specific characteristics may constitute a powerful tool for behavioural change.

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Proestakis, Antonios
di Sorrentino, Eugenia Polizzi
Brown, Helen Elizabeth
van Sluijs, Esther
Mani, Ankur
Caldeira, Sandra
Herrmann, Benedikt
Macmillan,, London , Regno Unito
Nature (Lond.) 2 (2018): 778–787. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0436-y
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Proestakis, Antonios; di Sorrentino, Eugenia Polizzi; Brown, Helen Elizabeth; van Sluijs, Esther; Mani, Ankur; Caldeira, Sandra; Herrmann, Benedikt/titolo:Network interventions for changing physical activity behaviour in preadol
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