Food for the Hungry Logo Barrier Analysis: A Tool for Improving Behavior Change Communication in Child Survival and Community Development Programs
Background Information
What is Barrier Analysis
Behavior change theory
Seeing the need
Fisherman story
Seven steps
The "Exercise" exercise
How to Conduct Barrier Analysis

Masai villagers shaking hands

  Behavior Change Theory

Theory of Reasoned Action
The Theory of Reasoned Action, another theory on which this tool is based, suggests that a person's behavior is determined, in part, by his/her "subjective norm."1 Subjective norm is defined as a person's "perception that most people who are important to him think he should or should not perform the behavior in question."2 We will be talking about this concept, but we will be calling it “perceived social acceptability.”

Perception of Divine Will
Lastly, from our own work in Food for the Hungry and through examining work done by other NGOs, we have come to realize that many of the scientific theoreticians have ignored one possible powerful determinant: people’s perception of Divine (e.g., God’s) will, which can be a very strong motivator affecting what people do or do not do, quite apart from the other determinants. This determinant is quite different in nature from “perceived social acceptability” in that we are talking about a very different and powerful type of relationship than that with other people.

Prochaska’s Change Theory
There is one other theory that you should know about. Sometimes people change after hearing a message one time and one time only, but in other cases people need to hear a message more than once (though they still need to be hearing the right message). There are different stages of change people go through when deciding to do something new, and depending on what stage people are in when they hear a particular message, they will respond differently. These stages are described in Prochaska’s Change Theory.

Prochaska’s Change Theory Diagram
Prochaska’s Change Theory

Some people are ready to take action immediately, and hearing the message once might “tip the scales” and motivate them to take action, to do the behavior. (An example of that would be when my father told me not to stick my head out of the car window while the car was moving, or an oncoming truck (lorry) could take off my head. I was convinced after thinking about it and never did it again.) Other people are not as far along in the stages of change. For these people, you will need to make the behavior look more attractive, by increasing their understanding of the positive attributes of the behavior and by helping to reduce any barriers they face to making the change. Moreover sometimes messages are not the primary thing that is needed to motivate change but rather supportive activities (e.g., support groups).

  Behavior Change Theory
Change Theories
Four Factors
  Four Factors Quiz
  Doer/Non-Doer Analysis
  BEHAVE Framework


1 Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior. NJ: Prentice-Hall.

2 Chang, M. K. (1998, December). Predicting unethical behavior: a comparison of the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Business Ethics.

Next (Four Factors)

Food for the Hungry Logo

© November 2004

Home Site Map Contact Us