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Proof that you can’t scare people into going green

by Mel Starrs on September 26, 2006

in Psychology & Marketing

Condensed from the ESPRC press release:

New research published 25 September 2006 by the Economic and Social Research Council shows that positive, informative strategies which help people set specific environmental goals are far more effective when it comes to encouraging behaviour change than negatives strategies which employ messages of fear, guilt or regret.

Theories have long suggested that by changing attitude, social rules and peoples own ability to reach their goals, people’s intentions or decisions to act in a particular fashion will be changed, which in turn determines the extent of change in behaviour. But the supporting evidence for these widely accepted ideas was weak; there was a need to take a closer look at experiments that changed attitudes, norms and self-efficacy in order to measure the true extent of any changes in subsequent intentions and behaviour.

Research found the most effective strategies were to prompt practice, set specific goals, generate self-talk, agree a behavioural contract and prompt review of behavioural goals. The two least effective strategies involved arousing fear and causing people to regret if they acted in a particular fashion.  

I’m glad the academic world agree with me on this one ;o).

It reminds me of Seth Godin’s attempt to repackage ‘global warming’ as a more evil sounding problem.  Sorry, Seth – doesn’t look like that would work.

I’ve yet to go see Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth‘ – I’m hoping it’s not all doom and gloom.  I will report when I manage to see it. For readers in Leeds, it is showing at the Hyde Park Picture House from Friday 6 October until Thursday 18 October. Even if the film isn’t appealing – the cinema certainly is:

Originally built as a hotel in 1908 and converted to a cinema in 1914, The Hyde Park Picture House is a beautiful example of an Edwardian venue and one of the only surviving picture palaces in the UK.

As a grade 2 listed building, The Hyde Park still boasts many original features including gas lighting and a decorated Edwardian balcony.

With its classic facade and atmosphere, The Hyde Park Picture House has been through many changes in its long history. It is now home to a diverse mix of art house and mainstream films, backed up by screenings of classics, providing the most unique cinematic experience the city has to offer.

  • http://www.temasactuales.com/temasblog Keith R

    Actually, Gore’s movie is not all gloom & doom, and is very well done. I saw it with my 15-yr old twins, figuring it might educate them on the issue, but in fact it even taught me alot (and I thought I understood the issue well!). I highly recommend it.

    Have you read “Communicating Sustainability”? An interesting read that says many of the same things you are saying here.

    I like what I see of your blog. I only just discovered it through mybloglog, and will be joining your “community” and checking back in. Keep up the good work!
    Best Regards,
    Keith

  • http://www.temasactuales.com/temasblog Keith R

    Actually, Gore’s movie is not all gloom & doom, and is very well done. I saw it with my 15-yr old twins, figuring it might educate them on the issue, but in fact it even taught me alot (and I thought I understood the issue well!). I highly recommend it.

    Have you read “Communicating Sustainability”? An interesting read that says many of the same things you are saying here.

    I like what I see of your blog. I only just discovered it through mybloglog, and will be joining your “community” and checking back in. Keep up the good work!
    Best Regards,
    Keith

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