How we work

Case studies

At the heart of what we do is improving interactions.

We do this through a tried and tested methodology that starts with identifying what the existing evidence says about key relationship issues. We then use our research to design innovation projects.

The skills necessary for successfully interacting with others improves relationship skills, such as forgiveness, commitment, and communication – so our work helps thousands of people each year.

Relationship science

Relationship science is a field that aims to understand the initiation, development, maintenance, and dissolution of interpersonal relationships. To do this, relationship science employs empirical methods from a range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, and economics. Relationship science aims to answer four core questions:

a) What is a relationship?
b) How do relationships operate?
c) What tendencies do people bring to their relationships? and
d) How does the context affect relationships?

The first step in understanding any relationship issue is to review what experts in relationship science have studied. This ensures that all innovation projects that we work on are based in evidence – creating a key link between theory and practice.

Behaviour change theory

Sometimes how we react to our environment and those around us (our behaviour) can result in difficult interactions and negative relationship outcomes. For example, someone may consistently respond to a partner’s lateness by shouting, which results in destructive conflict. By learning more constructive ways of expressing oneself and changing destructive behaviours, we can improve our interactions and in turn our relationships.

Interventions that are designed to change behaviour, should be developed from theories of behaviour and behaviour change. Such theories attempt to identify and understand root causes of behaviour, and by understanding what causes behaviour (‘behavioural determinants’) we can understand how to develop interventions that change behaviour. Behaviour change theories include Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977), Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), and Operant Learning Theory (Skinner, 1963). All of these theories propose mechanisms through which ‘behavioural determinants’ can predict how we respond to our environment. For example, Social Learning Theory proposes that learning is a thought process and people learn new behaviours through observing and imitating others. In this, ‘behavioural determinants’ start with a person’s self-efficacy beliefs, that is, their belief in the ability to perform a behaviour.

Behaviour change theories underpin how we develop tools to support people in developing relationship skills and positive relationship behaviours.

Behaviour modelling training

Behaviour Modelling Training (BMT) is one example of a theory-based method that can be used in behaviour change interventions. BMT uses visual demonstrations of behaviours to promote knowledge and skills acquisition and improvement in attitudes, intentions, and self-efficacy. BMT applies the principles of Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory to a learning environment, whereby, a change in belief about one’s ability to successfully execute a given behaviour will increase the likelihood of one engaging in the initiation and maintenance of that demonstrated behaviour. Enhanced knowledge, self-efficacy, motivation and practice bolster imitative and vicarious learning (Pidd, 2004).

BMT works by describing a set of well-defined behaviours (or skills) to be learnt and provides a visual demonstration of those skills. A BMT intervention would then provide a user the opportunity to practice those behaviours and provide feedback and social reinforcement following practice. These stages of BMT are based upon four key component processes of Social Learning Theory: attentional, retentional, reproduction, and motivational.

Relational capability

OnePlusOne has been developing the relational capability framework throughout our history. It draws on the capability approach of Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen, which has been expanded on by others, such as philosopher and ethicist, Martha Nussbaum. The capability approach suggests that societies and governments should promote the capabilities of individuals to live a life they value. According to Nussbaum, engaging in a relationship is one such capability. From our perspective, that resonates deeply with the extensive body of research around why and how relationships matter.

The building blocks of relational capability are laid down in infancy and early childhood. This is when children develop social and cognitive capacities, such as emotional understanding, perspective-taking and emotional regulation. These form the basis of internal relational capability. With these foundations in place, children are able to create the relationships that see them engage successfully, first with those closest to them, then with others they encounter in education, the workplace and an ever-widening social world. Capability begets capability.

At OnePlusOne, we have focused on an individual’s capacity to initiate and maintain relationships, and the opportunity to use that capacity. So, our concept of relational capability differentiates between internal relational capability (the skills for making and maintaining relationships) and relational opportunity (the conditions that enable individuals to use those skills).