Slip, Slop, Slap! Behavior Change vs. Skin Cancer
Australia's catchy sun protection campaign is working. What can we learn from 30 years of behavior change results?
A campaign encouraging Aussies to Slip on a shirt, Slop on the 30+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat, danced its way into the public domain in the 80s, and
Cancer Council Australia now says they have the results—a sharp dip in skin cancer rates—to prove it's working.
The thing about behavior change is that it is much easier to do when the new behavior has immediate and obvious benefits. For issues like the long-term effects of skin damage, it can be very tricky to get a population to take action, because the effects are too far in the future.
It seems to me that there may some lessons in here about how to change parents' mindsets around what activities they should be prioritizing with young children. Early childhood development is—as its core—an exercise in priority setting. Especially in low-resource contexts, emphasizing preschool or other time-intensive activities means parents making difficult choices about spending their scarce time on something for which the benefits may not be immediately visible.
What do you think we can learn from Slip, Slop, Slap! and other successful campaigns to change public behavior?