Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Interested in a historical perspective on why discussion is more effective at changing behavior than lecture? As you teach your class and wonder why most may not be making the healthiest choices in regards to their birth...think about this study:

In World War II, the United States was facing a serious shortage of meat. The Committee on Food Habits was charged with figuring out how to keep Americans healthy and eating intestines and kidneys instead of the same meat they’d been accustomed to.

Lewin set up a study which Eliot Aronson writes about in Age of Propaganda. Lewin brought together housewives (who at that time were the chief decisionmakers about food.) He then divided them into two groups:

Group 1 was given a 45-minute lecture, which “emphasized the importance of eating these meats for the war effort. The economic advantages and the health of the meat were stressed. The lecture ended with a testimonial from the speaker about her success in serving intestinal meats to her own family.” 3% of the attendees ended up serving intestinal meats to their families.

Group 2 spent the same amount of time discussing the problem of a meat shortage. Lewin asked them, “Do you think that housewives like yourselves could be persuaded to participate in the intestinal meat program?” The women then discussed how that might happen. Remarkably, 32% of the housewives who had engaged in self-persuasion served their families intestinal meats.”

Think about it. The message has nothing to do with the eating of the meats and has everything to do with how we as childbirth educators structure our classes - do we lecture and tell them what they should do or do we set up discussions where they determine what needs to be done...

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting food for thought .... away with the lectures!! :-)