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Meet Amina

Amina is a 35-year-old single mother who recently migrated to a low-income, peri-urban area.

She is faced with a big decision and needs your help!
Amina and her three children

Amina’s Story

Amina has three children - two daughters, ages 2 and 9, and a son, age 5.

A small school has recently opened in a neighbouring settlement, offering a chance for formal education. While Amina herself never had the opportunity to go to school, she recognizes the value of education. However, she's torn about whether to send her eldest child to school or not. The younger children are not yet eligible to attend.

The local school

Amina works in the informal sector as a street vendor. The money she earns is the main source of income for Amina’s family.

Her children significantly contribute to the daily work - particularly her eldest daughter Meera, who helps with household chores and cares for her younger siblings while Amina works at the local market.

Meera and her siblings

What are Amina's Biases?

As Amina thinks about whether or not to send Meera to school, which biases might be influencing her decision?

Select each of the following to discover the answer to this question.

How can we help Amina overcome these biases?

Thankfully, behavioural science has provided us with a toolbox of solutions we can apply to address a variety of situations.

As we can tell from Amina’s story so far, there are many biases or barriers she’ll encounter in her decision-making process.

Many of these can be categorized as a Hassle Factor, a Structural Barrier, a Cognitive Bias, or a Social Barrier.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are mental obstacles that decrease an individual’s likelihood of taking action. Examples include the tendency to think in the short term and resist changing one’s current situation.

Social Barriers

Social barriers are the inequalities associated with different types of individuals in society. These include socio-cultural and gender-related obstacles that prevent certain groups from accessing services or benefitting from resources.

Structural Barriers

Structural barriers are external factors that stem from how a decision-making environment is built, thus making desired actions difficult. These may include inadequate transportation or the distance to essential services.

Hassle Factors

Hassles are the frustrating demands that often characterise everyday transactions with the environment. Hassles may include, for example, filling out long forms, waiting in line, or complex administrative processes.

Help Amina by reviewing the following solutions and identifying the barriers they can each help her overcome.

Solution #1:

Leveraging Social Norms

People are heavily influenced by social norms and the behaviours of those around them. We are more likely to adopt behaviours that others in our community approve of and perform themselves - especially if those individuals are important to us.

We could, for example, encourage Amina to get in touch with families from the same community who have sent their children to school.

What type of barrier do you think this solution would help Amina overcome?
Chat bubbles
Solution #2:


Edutainment mixes fun and learning through media channels such as television and radio shows. By using compelling and relatable stories, edutainment encourages the audience to question their ways of thinking and acting. 

Amina listens to a radio program where the main character, Fatima, struggles with the decision to send her daughter to school. As the story unfolds, Fatima finds solutions to several obstacles and is introduced to educational benefits she had not considered before.

What type of barrier do you think this solution would help Amina overcome?
Amina and her three children outside the market stall

Great work

Amina is starting to feel more equipped to make a decision…keep going!

Solution #3:

Removing Friction

Friction costs are the direct and indirect costs of engaging in a behaviour. People may face legitimate concerns and structural barriers to sending their children to school, such as financial constraints and the need for additional support at home.

Amina is worried about the distance and cost of getting her eldest daughter, Meera, to school. One behaviourally-informed solution is to partner with the local government and identify initiatives that provide transportation subsidies or bicycles free of charge for children.

What type of barrier do you think this solution would help Amina overcome?
A bicycle with money flying around it
Solution #4:

Make Benefits Salient

Making the benefits salient means bringing the benefits of a decision or behaviour to the forefront of an individual's mind.

We could ask one of the girls who successfully graduated from the local school to tell her story at the next community meeting. Listening to her testimonial would allow Amina and other caregivers to witness the short- and long-term benefits of attending school. These might include improved literacy and numeracy skills, the opportunity to make friends, and better income-generating opportunities.

What type of barrier do you think this solution would help Amina overcome?
A thought bubble with a book in it

Amazing job! You have completed this scenario and successfully helped Amina overcome barriers.

Explore other ways behavioural science can be used to help people overcome barriers by going through another scenario!

Try another scenario

Use this resources to learn more about biases, barriers, and solutions.

Behavioural Drivers Model
Everybody Wants to Belong
Social and Behaviour Change