The Human Behaviour-Change Project: Behaviour Science meets Computer Science
Despite significant investment in programs to change behaviour, interventions vary greatly in their success. Answering ‘What works, compared to what, how well, for whom, in what settings, for what behaviours and why?’ remains problematic for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. Efforts to synthesise evidence have traditionally been hindered by poorly reported intervention evaluations, and by the sheer scale on which reports are published: vaster than humans can synthesise and access.
Computers have the prerequisite capacity and speed but require an organisational structure to do the task successfully. The Human Behaviour-Change Project (HBCP) brings together behavioural scientists, computer scientists and systems architects to build an Artificial Intelligence system to scan the world literature on behaviour change, extract key information and use this to advance our understanding of human behaviour and answer key questions about effective behaviour change interventions. The HBCP will revolutionise our ability to synthesise, interpret and deliver evidence on behaviour change interventions that is up-to-date and tailored to user need and context.
In this lecture I will present the rationale for the HBCP and its main activities:
- Developing an Ontology of Behaviour Change Interventions suitable for computation,
- Annotating published literature using the ontology and Natural Language Processing,
- ‘Training’ an Artificial Intelligence system using machine learning to extract, synthesise and interpret evidence, generating novel hypotheses
- Developing an interface, enabling users to interrogate and update the resulting database.
About the speaker
Susan Michie is Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London. Michie’s research focuses on behaviour change in relation to health: how to understand it theoretically and apply theory to intervention development, evaluation and implementation. She has also developed innovative methods for intervention reporting and evidence synthesis, working across disciplines such as information science and computer science. She leads the Human Behaviour-Change Project.