“The vast majority of Victorians pay their rego on time.”

When the above statement is written on a Vic Roads registration bill, more people pay their registration on time than when the statement doesn’t appear. This is because people are more likely to perform a behaviour when they think the majority of others are performing it too. If behavioural insights are considered, clear and effective written communication can lead to substantial changes in human behaviour.

ISCRR’s Research Communications and Translation team attended a series of workshops in June 2021 on how to apply behavioural insights to written communications. The workshops were run by BehaviourWorks Australia, a leading behaviour change research enterprise within Monash University’s Sustainable Development Institute. The workshops were focused on the ‘INSPIRE framework’1 developed by BehaviourWorks. INSPIRE is an acronym for seven of the most effective techniques to improve written communications to increase compliance with a call to action. This could be as consequential as paying a fee, or as simple as increasing the click-through rate of an article.

First and foremost, the target behaviour of the call to action needs to be clear and simple, capturing who does what to what, when and where. Once that has been established, the seven techniques from the framework can start being applied.

The ‘E’ in INSPIRE stands for ‘Ease’ and is always applied first. Making the communication as easy as possible to understand, and not open to interpretation is essential. The rest of the techniques can be chosen on how useful they are to the context. For instance, ‘Norms’ emphasise the desirability and frequency of the behaviour you are seeking compliance for, for example, Vic Roads indicating that most Victorians pay their registration on time. The ‘Salience’ technique allows your communication to stand out to differentiate it from other communications, by using prominent visual stimuli such as stamps, colours, and symbols, to attract attention.

Each of the seven INSPIRE techniques are unique, and provide guidance on how communication can be made more persuasive to readers in terms of content and presentation. ISCRR found the workshop very practical and insightful and we’ve already applied the knowledge to our own communications.

  1. Faulkner et al., (2018). The INSPIRE Framework: How public administrators can increase compliance with written requests using behavioural techniques. Public Administration Review, 79 (1), 125-135.