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Peter Honey: Which comes first, behaviour or beliefs?

UKLearning NewsCharity Learning Consortium

Behaviour can be changed, even if attitudes are left to play catch up, says Dr Peter Honey in an article in the latest Charity Learning Consortium eNewsletter. Read on to find out why the famous Learning Styles creator backs tackling behaviour first, and how tools and techniques can play their part.

Dr Peter Honey, the well known creator of the Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire, and a popular guest speaker at the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC) members’ meeting, says we all want people to behave thoughtfully – where we differ is how we believe we can achieve this end.

“There are ‘internalists’ who assume that attitudes and beliefs must come first and that people have to believe something before they can radiate the right behaviours. Then there are ‘externalists’ who assume that behaviour is largely situational and that it is possible artificially to induce behaviour, leaving beliefs and attitudes to play catch-up.

“I am sure in my own mind that in a perfect world people would be nice to each other, not because they had to, but because they believed it was the right thing to do. However, the world isn’t perfect and, fortunately, there are a whole host of tried and tested techniques ready and waiting to come to our aid. It seems such a pity to insist that passionate beliefs are a pre-requisite before they can be employed for the common good.

“It seems to me there are always two routes to authentic behaviour - and you pays your money and takes your pick. Firstly, the attitudinal route where people’s hearts and minds have to be won before they are in a position to behave properly. Secondly, the behavioural route where people are made to behave properly, and attitudes align themselves behind the behaviour. As a self-confessed pragmatist I, of course, plumb for the latter!”

To read the full article from our regular eNewsletter please visit the CLC’s blog, where you’ll find lots more interesting content, with contributions from Donald Taylor, Laura Overton, Clive Shepherd and members of the CLC itself. You can also sign up for the CLC newsletter on our website at – just fill in the Stay Connected box on the right hand side of the home page.

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