Dr Frank Eves BSc PhD

Dr Frank Eves

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Reader in Lifestyle Physical Activity

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 4133
+44 (0)121 414 4121
School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Frank Eves is a public health psychologist who pioneered the use of prompts in community settings to increase lifestyle physical activity.  This translational research uses psychological theory to optimise the response to these ‘nudge’ interventions at a population level.  He has supervised 18 PhD students to completion and likes to dance when he gets the chance.


BSc (Wales)

PhD (London)


Research interests

  • Exercise Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Environmental Psychology

 Research summary

The research that I do targets obesity, one of the major threats to public health in the developed world.  The simple behaviour of stair climbing has implications for weight control.  An 80 kg man climbing a 3m flight of stairs only an extra ten times in a day accumulates 28 kcals, an energy expenditure that is equivalent to about three pounds of fat if continued over a year.  Repeated every day for 10 years, this is equivalent to more than two stone.  Just as obesity results from a steady accretion of weight, so one can counter this with a steady accumulation of energy expenditure during everyday life.  Stair climbing interventions eschew conventional approaches based on individual counselling or public health information broadcasts about obesity.  These conventional attempts at weight control are divorced in time and place from the intended behaviour.

For the accumulation of physical activity as part of daily life, I use environmental interventions, what might be termed active ‘nudges’ in current parlance.  Thus, a prompt is positioned within the environment encouraging pedestrians to take the stairs rather than the escalator or lift for health reasons.  These interventions are termed point-of-choice prompts as they are positioned at the point where pedestrians choose one alternative.  They function by interrupting habitual behaviours at the point of their occurrence, allowing replacement of bad habits with health enhancing alternatives.  They translate good intentions into action by intervening at the point in time where action can be taken.  Thus, point-of-choice prompts circumvent the problems of memory and planning that may prevent translation of good intentions into behaviour.  Critically, they work; to date 37/41 interventions on public access staircases have been successful and 23 of those successful interventions were conducted by my team. 

My team’s work in this area initially investigated parametric aspects of message delivery such as prompt size and visibility, key components of intervention success.  This work has expanded to investigate the potential of different message contents and formats, the effects of contextual variables (e.g. public access vs. workplace settings), the effects of physical variables such as climate and terrain and the effects of uncontrollable variables such as pedestrian traffic volume at the site, SES and demographic grouping such as age and weight status.  Recently research has been exploring multiple components interventions in which the basic prompt is supplemented by materials targeting attitude and intention to augment their effects.  This research adds a motivational component to the volitional intervention of an active environmental nudge towards a healthier option.  Currently, we are generalising knowledge gained with stair climbing prompts to potential interventions for food choice at the time of purchase.

In this work on prompting, we use choice of stair climbing as a model of active transport behaviour.  Climbing stairs is an energy hungry behaviour, requiring more expenditure per minute than jogging.  Effects of physiological resources are magnified for this choice.  Using an escalator can avoid the energetic costs and escalator choice becomes a habit, reinforced by minimization of the energy costs of navigating the built environment.  Complimentary current research is investigating signals that might deter energy expenditure during active transport, namely perception of the slope of stairs and hills.  We are exploring the effects on this ‘embodied’ perception of demographic variables such as gender, age and weight status, as well as potential effects of fatigue, quadriceps strength and prior activity.  Much of this research involves field studies in which judgements of slant perception are made by individuals who are navigating the built environment.  In essence, we study the natural behaviour of pedestrians and the factors that influence physically active choices.

Read my case study - Stair climbing to increase Lifestyle Physical Activity

Listen to my podcast 'Nudges towards and away from obesity' (MP3 - 13.7MB) or read the podcast transcript.


Eves F.F. (2014) Is there any Proffitt in stair climbing?  A headcount of studies testing for demographic differences in choice of stairs.  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 21, 71-79.

Eves, F.F., Thorpe, S.K.S., Lewis, A., & Taylor-Covill, G.A.H. (2014) Does perceived steepness deter stair climbing when an alternative is available?  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 21 (3), 637-644

Taylor-Covill, G., & Eves, F.F. (2014) When what we need influences what we see: Choice of energetic replenishment is linked with perceived steepness.  Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human Perception and Performance, 40, 915-919.

Holliday, A., Batey, C., Eves, F.F. & Blannin, A.K. (2014) A novel tool for the measurement of subjective appetite: the Visual Meal Creator.  Appetite 79, 68-75

Taylor-Covill, G., & Eves, F.F. (2013) Slant perception on stairs and screens: Effects of sex and fatigue in a laboratory environment.  Perception, 42(4):459-69

French, D.P., Darker, C.D., Eves, F.F., & Sniehotta, F.F (2013) The systematic development of a brief intervention to increase walking in the general public using an "extended" theory of planned behavior. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10(7), 940-8.

Taylor-Covill, G.A.H., & Eves, F.F. (2013) The accuracy of ‘haptically’ measured geographical slant perception.  Acta Psychologica, 144, 444-450

Taylor-Covill, G.A.H., & Eves, F.F. (2013) What hands know about objects; taking perception of hills out of context: A response to Durgin (2013). Acta psychologica 144 459-461

Long, J.E., Ring, C., Bosch, J.A., Eves,F.F., Drayson, M.T., Calver, R. Say, V., Allen,D. &  Burns, V.E. (2013)  A lifestyle physical activity intervention and the antibody response to pneumococcal vaccination in women. Psychosomatic Medicine. 75, 774-782

Eves, F.F., Olander, E.K., Webb, O.J., Griffin, C., & Chambers, J. (2012) Likening stairs in buildings to climbing a mountain: Self-reports of expected effects on stair climbing and objective measures of effectiveness. Psychology of Sport & Exercise 13, 170-176

Lewis, A. & Eves, F.F.  (2012) Testing the theory underlying the success of point-of-choice prompts: A multi-component stair climbing intervention.  Psychology of Sport & Exercise 13,126-132.

Eves, F.F. Webb, O.J., Griffin, C. & Chambers, J. (2012) A Multi-component intervention targeting calorific expenditure with stair climbing; Effects on behaviour, attitudes and intentions.  BMC Public Health 2012, 12: 423.

Lewis, A. & Eves, F.F.  (2012) Prompt before the choice is made; Effects of a stair climbing intervention in university buildings. British Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 631–643

Lewis, A. & Eves, F.F. (2012) Prompts to increase stair climbing in stations; the effect of message complexity.Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 9, 954-961

Kremers, S.P.J., Eves, F.F. & Andersen, R.E. (2012) Environmental changes to promote physical activity and healthy dietary behaviour.  Journal of Environmental and Public Health Article ID 470858, 4 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/470858.

Webb, O.J., Eves, F.F., & Kerr, J. (2011) A statistical summary of mall-based stair-climbing interventions. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8, 558-65

Olander, E., & Eves, F.F. (2011) Elevator availability and its impact on stair use in a workplace. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31, 200-206

Lewis, A. & Eves, F.F. (2011) Specific effects of a calorie-based intervention in overweight commuters.  Annals of Behavioral Medicine 42 (2), 257-261

Hurren, N. M., Eves, F.F., & Blannin, A.K. (2011) Is the effect of prior exercise on postprandial lipaemia the same for a moderate-fat meal as it is for a high-fat meal?  British Journal of Nutrition, 105(4):506-16.

Webb, O.J., Eves, F.F. (2011) Promoting stair climbing: the importance of consistent practice when conducting and reviewing interventions.  Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 35 ( 6),  573-U51

Olander, E & Eves, F.F. (2011) Effectiveness and cost of two stair climbing interventions - less is more. American Journal of Health Promotion, 25 (4), 231-236

Ryan, J., Lyon, K., Webb, O.J., Eves, F.F., & Ryan, C.G. (2011) Promoting physical activity in a low socioeconomic area: Results from an intervention targeting stair climbing. Preventive Medicine,52, 352–354, 352–354

Webb, O.J., Eves, F.F. & Smith, L. (2011) Investigating behavioural mimicry in the context of stair/escalator choice. British Journal of Health Psychology,16, 373–385, 373–385

Eves, F.F. (2010) Effects of point-of-decision prompts for stair use depend on the alternative. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38, 573–574

Scott, E.J., Eves, F.F., Hoppé, R. & French, DP. ( 2010) Dancing to a different tune: The Theory of Planned Behaviour when the behaviour is constrained. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 250-257

Puig-Ribera, A & Eves F.F. (2010) Promoting stair climbing in Barcelona: similarities and differences with interventions in English-speaking populations. European Journal of Public Health, 20, 100-102

Darker, C.D., French, D.P., Eves, F.F., & Sniehotta, F.F (2010) An intervention to promote walking amongst the general population based on an "extended" Theory of Planned Behaviour: A waiting list randomised controlled trial.  Psychology and Health.25: 1, 71-88: 1, 71-88

Scott, E.J., Eves, F.F., Hoppé, R. & French D.P. (2009). Accessibility of salient beliefs about the outcomes of physical activity. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14,159-174

Orrell, A.J.,Masters, R.S.W.& Eves, F.F. (2009). Reinvestment and movement disruption following stroke. Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair, 23, 177-183, 177-183

Eves, F.F., & Hoppé, R. (2009). Accessibility of links between behaviours and outcomes; The case of physical activity. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 31, 249-266, 31, 249-266

Jolly, K., Duda, J.L., Daley, A, Eves, F.F., Mutrie, N., Ntoumanis, N., Rouse, P.C., Lodhia, R., & Williams, G.C. (2009) Evaluation of a standard provision versus an autonomy promotive exercise referral programme: Rationale and study design BMC Public Health2009, 9:176

Eves, F.F., Olander, E. K, Nicoll, G., Puig Ribera, A., & Griffin, C. (2009) Increasing stair climbing in a train station; effects of contextual variables and visibility. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 300-303.

Masters, R.S.W., Maxwell, J.P., & Eves, F.F. (2009) Marginally perceptible outcome feedback, motor learning and implicit processes. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 639-645

Calitri, R., Lowe, R., Eves, F.F. & Bennett, P. (2009) Associations between visual attention, implicit and explicit attitude, and behaviour for physical activity. Psychology and Health 24, (9), 1105–1123

Eves, F.F. (2008) All choices are not equal; Effects of context on point-of-choice prompts for stair climbing. Obesity Reviews,9, 83-84

Eves, F.F., Masters, R.S.W., McManus, A., Leung, M., Wong, P., & White, M.J. (2008) Contextual barriers to lifestyle physical activity interventions in Hong Kong. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40, 965-971

Olander, E. K, Eves, F.F. & Puig Ribera, A. (2008) Promoting stair climbing: stair-riser banners are better than posters... sometimes. Preventive Medicine, 46, 308-310

Eves, F.F., Lewis, A.L, & Griffin, C. (2008) Modeling effects of stair width on rates of stair climbing in a train station. Preventive Medicine, 47, 270-272

Eves, F.F., Masters, R.S.W., & McManus, A. (2008) Effects of point-of-choice stair climbing interventions in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Medical Journal, 14,suppl 5, S36-39

Orrell, A.J., Eves, F.F., Masters, R.S.W., & MacMahon, K.M.A. (2007). Implicit Sequence Learning Processes after Unilateral Stroke. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 17, 335-354

Eves, F.F. Scott, E.J. Hoppé, R. & French D.P. (2007). Using the affective priming paradigm to explore the attitudes underlying walking behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 571-585

Scott, E.J., Eves, F.F., French D.P., & Hoppé, R. (2007) The Theory of Planned Behaviour predicts self-reports of walking but does not predict step-counts. British Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 601-620

Webb, O.J., & Eves, F.F. (2007) Effects of environmental changes in a stair climbing intervention: generalization to stair descent. American Journal of Health Promotion, 22, 38-44

Webb, O.J., & Eves, F.F. (2007) Promoting Stair Climbing: Intervention Effects Generalize to a Subsequent Stair Ascent. American Journal of Health Promotion22, 114-119, 114-119

Webb, O.J., & Eves, F.F. (2007) Promoting stair use: effects of message specificity and validation. Health Education Research, 22, 29-57

Masters, R.S.W., Pall, H.S., MacMahon, K.M.A & Eves, F.F. (2007) Duration of Parkinson’s disease is associated with an increased propensity for ‘reinvestment’. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 21, 123-126

Darker, C.D., French, D.P., Longdon, S., Morris, K., & Eves, F.F. (2007).    Are beliefs elicited biased by question order? A theory of planned behaviour belief elicitation study about walking behaviour in the general population. British Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 93-110

Eves, F.F. & Webb, O.J. (2006) Worksite interventions to increase stair climbing; Reasons for caution. Preventive Medicine, 43, 4-7

Eves, F.F. & Masters, R.S.W. (2006) An uphill struggle: Effects of a point-of-choice stair climbing intervention in a non-English speaking population. International Journal of Epidemiology, 35, 1286-1290

Eves, F.F., Webb, O.J. & Mutrie, N. (2006) A workplace intervention to promote stair climbing: greater effects in the overweight. Obesity 14,2210-2216

Orrell, A.J., Eves, F.F. & Masters, R.S.W. (2006) Implicit motor learning of a balancing task. Gait and Posture, 23, 9-16

Orrell, A.J., Eves, F.F. & Masters, R.S.W. (2006) Motor Learning of a Dynamic Balancing Task after Stroke: Implicit Implications for Stroke Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. 86, 369-380

Webb, O.J., & Eves, F.F. (2005) Promoting stair climbing: Single vs. multiple messages. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 1543-1544.

Maxwell, J.P., Masters, R.S.W., & Eves, F.F. (2003) The role of working memory in motor learning and performance. Consciousness and Cognition, 12, 376-402

Law, J., Masters, R.M., Bray, S., Eves, F.F, & Bardswell, I. (2003) Motor performance as a function of audience affability and metaknowledge. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 25, 484-500

Eves, F.F, Hoppé, R., & McLaren, L. (2003) Prediction of specific types of physical activity with the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research, 8, 77-95

Callaghan, P., Eves, F.F., Norman, P., Chang, A.M., & Lung, C.Y. (2002) Applying the Transtheoretical Model of Change to Exercise in Young Chinese People. British Journal of Health Psychology, 7, 267-282

Lowe, R., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2002) The influence of affective and instrumental beliefs on exercise intentions and behavior: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 1241-1252.

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2001) Encouraging stair use: Banners are better than posters. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1192-1193

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2001) Can posters prompt stair use in a worksite environment? Journal of Occupational Health, 43, 205-207

Walton, A.J. & Eves, F. (2001) Exploring drug users’ illness representations of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C using repertory grids. Psychology and Health, 16, 489-500.

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2001) Getting more people on the stairs: The impact of a new message format. Journal of Health Psychology, 6, 495-500

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2001) The influence of poster prompts on stair use: The effects of setting, poster size and content. British Journal of Health Psychology, 6, 397-405

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2001) Six-month observational study of prompted stair climbing. Preventive Medicine, 33, 422-427

Maxwell, J.P., Masters, R.S.W., & Eves, F.F. (2000) From novice to no know-how: a longitudinal study of implicit motor learning. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 111-120

Kerr, J., Eves, F., & Carroll, D. (2000) Posters can prompt less active individuals to use the stairs. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54, 942-943