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BiteSCIze with Alan Tapp

Who are you?

Alan Tapp, Professor of Social Marketing. A Welshman with an English accent.

How did you get into Behavioural Science?

By accident. I Kind of fell into it via chemistry, commercial marketing, fundraising research, football supporter studies, direct and database marketing, and promoting sport and exercise research. Chaotic career.

What are you working on right now? 

20mph default [with exceptions!] in Wales with you guys; Active Travel [my first love]; and some lovely interesting stuff on culture change with the true heroes of health – the Directors of Public Health

What do you like most about what you do?

That it means something. I am absolutely committed every day.

What role is there for communications in changing behaviour?

Lots of things. We point stuff out, promote something tangible, create excitement. Long term, we can change cultures. But that takes decades and millions of pound notes.

If you could work/research any topic what would it be and why?

Building a ‘brand’ for cycling and cyclists. And exposing the dark side – the populist, post-truth and polarising press on anything they deem as anti-car. War on the motorist? Don’t be stupid.

What is your favourite behavioural science paper/book/resource and why?

Herbert Simons’ Persuasion in Society. Genius

Who do you think is interesting in the general field?

I get inspired by lots of people but a special mention to Sharyn Rundle Thiele and Gerard Hastings who have influenced me enormously in the last 15 years.

What haven’t we asked you that we should have?

What’s my indoor 60m hurdles personal best…

[Editor’s note : Alan’s best is 7.96s which “wasn’t bad at the time” and was ranked 9th on the all-time list for a period.]

Who is one person that we can speak to for our next interview and if you could ask them one question, what would it be?

I asked one hero in my life [my better half, Prof Jane Powell] to help me meet another hero [Tracy Daszkiewicz, Director of Public Health of Wiltshire during the Salisbury poisonings crisis]. I met Tracy a few weeks ago and was star struck. Maybe Jane could get you an audience! I asked Tracy how much of the BBC drama was true – just about all of it was the answer…

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