Approaches >

BCD (Behaviour Centred Design)

Full name

Behaviour Centred Design.


The BCD approach was developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The BCD manual grew out of a series of modules and webinars developed for WaterAid.

Sector/behaviour focus

BCD was built for WASH and has been applied to other nutrition and health-related sectors, including food hygiene, particularly for infants and young children.

Focus within the process

The BCD approach addresses all stages of the process.

What’s special

BCD is built on a general theory of change that suggests that a successful behaviour-change intervention works by changing something in the environment, which then changes something in the brain and/or body of the target individual, which then has an impact on behaviour. The BCD approach helps to define a specific theory of change for the behaviour(s) of concern and the intervention context, and then to design and implement interventions that produce suprise in the environments in which behaviours are practiced, stimulate reevaluation of behaviours in people’s minds and bodies, and assist performance of the intended behaviour(s).

Supporting BC theories

Reinforcement Learning Theory // Evolutionary Psychology (focus on Reactive Behaviour, Motivated Behaviour, Executive Control) // Behaviour Determination model (previously called the ‘Evo-Eco’ model) // Focus on Behaviour Settings.

Time required

4-6 weeks (1-2 weeks of formative-research field work, 1-2 weeks of design, plus preparation of each stage).

Expertise required

The BCD approach requires expertise in social science research for the formative research, as it involves a variety of innovative methods such as motivational mapping, product attribute ranking, scripting and video ethnography, It requires involvement of people with a creative background in the Create (design) step, particularly if communications form a significant component of the intervention.

Training materials

Six Webinars run by LSHTM and WaterAid, The first covers BC Theory and the next five over each of the BCD stages/steps.



Case studies and examples

There are a number of project examples, including SuperAmma: Promotion of handwashing with soap after defecation by mothers of children under five in rural India.



A. AssessHere program designers start by gathering what is known about the target behaviours, the target audience, the context and the parameters of the intervention. A framing statement sets out what is known already about how change can be achieved and sets out hypotheses about change mechanisms for further exploration.
B. BuildIt involves carrying out carefully targeted formative research with a sample of the target audience to find out the things that are unknown and explore hypotheses about the likely drivers of change. Unlike typical formative research, which typically involves key informant interviews and focus groups, BCD employs a variety of innovative methods such as motivational mapping, product attribute ranking, scripting and video ethnography in a rapid ‘deep dive’ with target audiences. The insights from this formative research are then ordered into a Theory of Change and distilled into a brief for the next phase.


C. CreateInvolves a creative team iteratively designing the intervention package and testing it on a small scale. Creativity is hard to package into a simple process but it is vital if interventions are to be engaging and motivating enough to stand out in the crowded lives of those targeted by programs. The result of the creative process is a package of surprising and disrupting intervention materials designed to have maximum effect on the target behaviour.

Implementation, monitoring and evaluation

D. DeliverThe intervention package is then implemented via a set of planned activities which may involve direct and indirect contact via various channels such as community workers, events, mass and/or digital media that are appropriate to the audience and intended impact. This process is monitored to ensure that learning from this experience can take place.
E. EvaluateIdeally in a field trial at a scale that allows some definitive assessment of whether the processes expected by the program’s Theory of Change have taken place. The learnings from evaluation should then provide the starting point for a new cycle of learning by engaging in the BCD process again to develop a new program.

Key documents

Web address