Individual-environment transactions and subjectivity: an alternative approach to behaviour change

Hill, K. (Speaker), David R Foxcroft (Speaker), Michael Pilling (Speaker)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Objectives: Using subjectivity to understand maladaptive alcohol consumption in young people. Design: Prevention approaches for alcohol misuse typically specify intentions as an important antecedent of behaviour, but intentions are often poor predictors of behaviour. An Ecological approach understands behaviour as it emerges from individual-environment transactions. Meaning exists in the interdependence of an individual and their environment, in terms of affordances. As affordances are relational, subjectivity is no longer characterised by hidden representations, but could provide a window onto drinking behaviour as it emerges from the relationship between individuals and their environment. Methods: A non-participant observational study within UK licensed premises highlighted affordances for promoting or inhibiting consumption, from the subjective perspective of an independent observer. Photo-elicitation interviews and phenomenology were then used to uncover the individual subjectivity which exists between drinkers and their drinking environments. These findings provided a varied concourse of alcohol-related affordances for a Q-methodology study. Forty university students aged 18-33 ranked sixty statements along a symmetrical grid, based on their perceptions of their drinking behaviours and drinking environments. Results: Factor analysis and post-sort interviews uncovered four factors: conscious & compliant; aware & autonomous; unaware & unanimous; canonical & concerned. These categories reflected functional differences in the subjective perspectives that are held by groups of individuals about their drinking behaviour and drinking environments. Conclusions: This research illustrated how subjectivity can be used as a tool to investigate consumption in context. As an alternative conceptual approach for understanding drinking behaviour, these findings have implications for prevention, policy and for future research.
Period9 Sep 2015
Event titleBPS Developmental and Social Section Annual Conference 2015
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Young people
  • Ecological approach