Why It Works

SONY DSCImagine we have made a “How NOT 2 change a light bulb” film. I am in the kitchen, a bulb goes bang, and I immediately attempt to change it.  I grab the bulb with my bare hands, scream, and the bulb smashes into a million pieces on the floor.

What goes on inside your head? You work out what I just did wrong.  Have I just encouraged you to change the bulb without letting it cool down? We think not.

But what do WE know? Let’s hear from some people who DO know what they’re talking about.



“I was pleased to see the concept and the videos being made by the How NOT 2 team.  The guys have created something genuinely clever and, like most good ideas, deceptively simple. In addition, it’s great fun, especially if you’re in the middle of another long, hard week. From a professional psychology point of view, some may believe that it is somehow damaging to demonstrate how not to do something, or how to do something badly.

However, this concern is empirically unfounded and scientifically spurious. The brief exposure learners are given to the team’s “expert incompetence” is extremely unlikely to have a lasting effect on their behaviour, and if some of the more alarming gaffes are memorable (which is kind of the point), they are set into context as something to avoid doing. I think we have to credit people on training courses with intelligence.  Their behaviour is affected by a multitude of factors which, on the whole have to be repeated many times to have any lasting influence. What is more, the courses that the How NOT 2 team has devised actually spend the vast majority of time focusing on how TO perform in the subject area being trained.  I hope you relax and enjoy this fun way of learning as much as I have!”

GorkanGörkan Ahmetoglu
Lecturer of Psychology and Director of Consumer Behaviour in Institute of Management Studies
Goldsmiths University, London




“People aren’t stupid.  We don’t just see and do – that’s a very limiting view of the human mind!  Yes, observational learning absolutely happens – there is lots of research around this, but primarily this is an early learning model done with children.  Adult learning is a more complex thing. We are active information processors, and think about the relationship between behaviour and its consequences. Observational learning could not occur unless cognitive processes were at work, and it’s these that make “How NOT 2”  modelling effective.

While there’s much we don’t know yet about how we learn, what we do know indicates multiple cognitive functions happening almost simultaneously.  Attention, perception and memory are all being used together to make sense of what is happening and then to process and store the information.  Neural pathways and connections are built to enable us to access information and these get stronger every time we use them.  The process of working out what is happening in the videos strengthens these learning pathways, and by engaging the brain in actively processing what is going WRONG, we help to reinforce what should be going RIGHT.  We see the negative behaviour receiving a negative consequence and then actively discuss (process) what the desired behaviour should be.  It all helps strengthen those pathways. . Plus, because it’s funny it means we have more chance of remembering the learning!”

MadyMandy Green is a behavioural change coach and consultant, currently working on her thesis for her B. Sc Psychology degree.