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Promoting social connections using happy-to-chat badges

Many people nowadays suffer from poor social health, including loneliness, social isolation, and disconnection. This is especially the case for older people, who often find it hard to reach out or ask for help because of their pride.

We come up with the idea of the happy-to-chat badges. By wearing a “happy to chat” badge on their clothes, bags or even hats, people can send out clear signals to others that they are happy to be greeted, approached and have a chat when they are out and about, whether these are during their shopping trips, walks in the parks or queuing at the bus stops.

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Extending previous happy-to-chat schemes, such as the happy-to-chat benches and the happy-to-chat cafes, happy-to-chat badges add mobility and flexibility. Happy-to-chat badges are not confined to any fixed locations or time-limited. It can be worn by anyone, anywhere and at any time. Using the nudge theory, happy to chat badges are a simple way to encourage micro conversations between and amongst people, promoting societal connections.

Although older people are our primary stakeholders, happy-to-chat badges can benefit everyone in society. By having more people wearing the happy-to-chat badges and supporting the movement, happy-to-chat will generate a new societal culture change, where connecting and socialising is made easier for all.

Preliminary data collected from 30 older people (age 50+) from Brunel Older People Reference Group (BROG), revealed very positive attitudes about wearing the happy-to-chat badges. 70% of participants point out they would like to participate and would be happy to wear the happy-to-chat badges during shopping, on public transportation and when participating in clubs.

Downloadable posters

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dorothy Yen
Dorothy Yen - Professor Dorothy A. Yen is a Professor in Marketing. She is currently the Director of Research at Brunel Business School, Brunel University London.  Dorothy takes a consumer-centric approach to understanding and discussing marketing, branding, and tourism matters. Dorothy studies how culture affects human behaviour, in both B2B and B2C domains. In the B2B domain, she looks at cross-cultural business relationships, with a particular focus on understanding how cultural-specific factors affect business relationships and collaborations. In the B2C domain, she studies consumer acculturation and sojourners’ and migrants' consumption practices and social media activities in relation to their cultural identity, as well as tourism boycotts and tourists' interactions with destinations on social media. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dorothy explored how migrants in the UK attempted to cope with the life-threatening disease while dealing with institutional uncertainty and a hostile host environment. Dorothy’s proposal on branding Wales as a land of dragons and legends triggered numerous discussions, and she has been invited to give evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee.  Dorothy is a member of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group at Brunel Business School and a lab leader of the Responsible Consumption and the Circular Economy Lab for the CBASS research centre of Substantiality and Entrepreneurship. Office hours are provided on Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm. Students can also email her to book an appointment at a mutually convenient time. This can be either on campus or via Microsoft TEAM upon mutual agreement.

Related Research Group(s)

Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park

Human Geography - Aims to develop and consolidate interdisciplinary research around space, place and society at Brunel. We provide a forum for engagement with geographical research, for sharing and receiving feedback on writing and developing new collaborations nationally and internationally.

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Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 12/10/2023