Why 'Change the Person' Strategies Fail

This sounds reasonable, but why do these strategies fall short (when used alone)?

There is more oxygen in the air in Vegas, we have increased exposure to risky situations in college, and there are social taboos against calling out a friend. Environment is a powerful enabler, and despite our best attempts to be the one to do things differently, the world around us always has a trump card.

It's tempting to invest all our efforts into changing the person (using educational programs to affect knowledge, skill, and attitude). But decisions are based on more than what lies inside the skin. Without also addressing the environmental causes of behavior, we are destined to spin our wheels.

Changing the environment can have a greater, more permanent impact for all students. But it's not sexy. It involves work. And it doesn't always feel good. And it takes a long time. So instead, well-intentioned decision-makers put butts-in-seats for sixty minutes of flare.

  • If only people knew what you know, they would make different choices.
  • If we start when they're young, before the problem starts, they won't get wrapped up in it.
  • If we teach critical thinking skills, students will make better decisions.