EDUTAINMENT and Behavior Change

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NEW DELHI :  This article elaborates on “That TV shows are better equipped for inducing behavioral change in the masses rather than just behavioral change campaigns. To justify the above a research was carried out on one such alternative approach called “Edutainment” (short for entertainment education).


Edutainment is the purposeful use of mass media programs to achieve developmental objectives through changing behaviors and attitudes of audiences and other community members. An experiment was conducted on “Sex in the City of Lagos”, a city in Nigeria. A TV drama called MTV Shuga was broadcasted across sub-Saharan Africa with the aim to promote safer sexual practices among youth.

For this random selection of 80 community screening locations was done. Out of these 54 locations were shortlisted for showing Shuga (treatment) and at 26 locations placebo TV drama that lacked HIV-related content (control) was shown. Placebo rather than control was used to show the effectiveness of TV drama and to remove benefits that might have crept in due to the delivery mechanism.

The sample age lied between 18-25-year-old living in urban and peri-urban areas of southern Nigeria. Data collection included baseline and 8-month follow-up surveys. To address social desirability bias, health camps were conducted 2 weeks after follow-up survey. There objective data like condom demand, HIV testing and Chlamydia infections were collected to understand the change in population. The study was designed to measure 2 potential channels for change: Learning and Social conformity.


To test learning only Shuga (T1) was screened. Whereas to verify social conformity 2 reference groups were formed. To the T2 group after Shuga screening, video clips were shown containing interviews of peers of similar ages and backgrounds and ‘smart graphs’ with statistics about their attitudes after watching Shuga. T3 groups were provided with 2 tickets to bring 2 friends. Spillover (T4) on friends was also tested for. These were people who were not directly or indirectly part of Shuga screenings.

The results accentuated that the treatment group started following safer sexual practices:

1. The treatment group was 3% more likely to get tested for HIV.
2. The reported incidence of concurrent sexual partnerships decreased significantly.
3. Did not induce use of condoms but showed reduced incidences of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
4. Likelihood of testing positive for Chlamydia among female sample decreased by 55%.
The results indicate that the value addition of edutainment comes from its ability to deliver
information that is very difficult to convey through traditional formats. Moreover, it has the ability to
reach large-scale audiences at low marginal costs.

1. Banerjee, A, La Ferrara, E and Orozco, V (forthcoming) “The Entertaining Way to Behavioral Change”, forthcoming World Bank Working Paper 2018. education/entertaining-way-behavioural-change-fighting-hiv-mtv-nigeria

2. Fishbein, M, and Ajzen, I (2010), Predicting and changing behavior: The reasoned action approach, New York: Psychology Press (Taylor & Francis).

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