Learning through Examples

Learning through examples involves either hearing from/observing others performing certain preferred behaviours or visualising oneself performing that behaviour, and understanding the associated benefits of that. While this technique may not seem intuitive, it has been very successful at getting people to alter their behaviours. A dietitian may ask a client to imagine the reward/punishment or think about the vicarious consequences of certain behaviours, in order to stimulate a client’s intrinsic motivation to change. A decisional balance sheet may be a useful tool here.

Video Examples


Note that the dietitian suggests Alice, who feels that she cannot find the time to cook, to speak with other mums about this to learn how they organise themselves. In this case, however, Alice indicates she does not feel comfortable with this as she might be judged by other mothers for not cooking.


See how the dietitian prompts Alice to think about the impact (rewards) of making changes in the eating habits at home. Alice realises this will be positive for both health and wellbeing.


Look how the dietitian asks Queenie to imagine the consequences of not making any dietary changes, on her own feelings and those of her family. She makes Queenie realise that if she does not make these changes, she may end up in a nursing home, lose her independence, and impact her family.