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Behavioural insights research into how the presentation of bovine bTB risk information at the point of purchase can affect farmers’ purchasing practices - ZF0533

The independent review of the government’s 25-year bTB eradication strategy for England called for more responsible purchasing practices mindful of residual bTB risk. Cattle movement between herds (through the introduction of undetected infected animals) represents an important mechanism for the spread of bTB. In response to the review, Defra is exploring further measures to improve the provision of bTB infection risk as part of farmers’ cattle purchase decision-making.

Providing farmers with information is a requisite to enable risk-based decisions, helping to bring transparency to the cattle market. However, simply providing information does not guarantee behaviour change, for a number of reasons, including: (1) the information is not salient, so it does not enter farmers’ attention; (2) information captures attention, but buyers do not know what it means; (3) buyers understand and intend to act, but for other reasons do not do so.

Previous research looking at farmer perspectives on risk-based trading provided general guidance regarding the provision of information at auctions. It concluded that information should be easy to understand and should be visible at the point of purchase. It did not specify exactly how such information should be shown (e.g., numerical or graphic rating) or test its effects on farmers’ behaviour. The rationale for this research is therefore to close this evidence gap and inform future thinking on bTB risk information provision.
Defra would like to establish key principles of effective bTB risk information provision at the point of sale. This project will focus on two components of risk information provision.
Type of content: what details are given, e.g. bTB test dates versus a risk rating scale.
Method of presentation: how these details are shown, e.g. text versus graphics.

To test the effectiveness of different types of content and methods of presentation, we will use a randomised controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard of impact evaluation. The underlying hypothesis is that ‘better’ information provision will enable farmers to take bTB risk into account when deciding to how much to bid and how to manage the movement of livestock. These two behaviours will therefore be our primary outcome measures in an online RCT that simulates a cattle auction.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : ZF0533 Final Report   (4504k)
• FRP - Final Report : ZF0533 Final Report   (201k)
• FRP - Final Report : ZF0533 Final Report - HTML   (13570k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2020

To: 2020

Cost: £76,061
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Behavioural Insights Ltd
Disease Control              
Social Research              
Social Sciences              
Fields of Study
Animal Health