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Why is it so hard to change behavior?

Two state mask mandates just went into effect last week. 8 months into a pandemic, it can be hard to get people on board.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — COVID cases are rising again. We’re starting to see more than 100,000 cases daily across our country. 

The medical community desperately wants to stop the spread of the coronavirus and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop a vaccine. 

Within the past week, a few more states have mandated masks. But, we’re already eight months into the pandemic and now, requiring people to change their behavior. We know this isn’t easy to do.

Elliot Berkman, a psychologist, has been researching behavior change for over 15 years. He has conceptualized behavior change into two factors: will and way. This reminds of the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The will is the motivation to change behavior. It’s the desire to change behavior. It’s the “why”. Why is it important to wear masks? Why mandate mask-wearing after eight months into the pandemic? What are the reasons to wear masks?

The way is the how. What skills are needed to change a behavior? What’s the plan to change the behavior? For mask-wearing, it’s simple. It’s to put on a mask. Put it around your ears. Make sure that your nose and mouth are completely covered. It’s to wear a mask around other people.

Between the will and the way, it’s the will that’s the challenge for mask-wearing. Some people aren’t motivated to wear masks. They don’t see the benefit of wearing masks. Or, they don’t see that it’s helping stop the spread of the coronavirus so why bother. Or, they don’t believe that the coronavirus is a real problem. If the motivation or will isn’t there, then it’ll be harder to get complete compliance with mask-wearing. Dr. Berkman found that tying a reward to the will increases behavior change.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline and I’ll get back to you. While you’re on my page, I’d appreciate it if you give my page a “like”.