Behavioural change and sustainability (How do we change behaviour? …
Behavioural change and sustainability
excessive material consumption of the earths natural resources from the industrialised world - as both a means and an end of economic growth - fundamentally underpins un-sustainable development trajectories. - Baker, 2016
Behavioural change has gained attention as a principal means of achieving sustainable resource consumption under a sustainable development paradigm.
Notions of behaviour change have become something of a holy grail. - Jackson, 2005.
Since the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ of 1992 (UNCED 1992), the emphasis placed on encouraging action by
for sustainability has proliferated.
It has developed as a rejection of top down policy approaches - Barr, 2003
DEFRA, 2002 "Sustainable development cannot be imposed from above. It will not take root unless people across the country are actively engaged."
How do we change behaviour?
Target individual behaviours
How we attempt to change behaviour is shaped by what we think drives /creates behaviour in the first place.
Three key theoretical groundings...
Rational, Attitudinal, Value oriented.
1) Rational: Provide information and financial incentives.
2) Appeal to peoples attitudes
3) Appeal to values.
Complexities of interfering with with market mechanisms.
Growing body of evidence that rational means of changing behaviour doesn't work i the long term. - Scottish Gov, and Costanza.
There is a wide body of evidence to suggest that appealing to altruistic values (focused on others welfare) i.e. air pollution mitigation and biospheric values (environmental welfare) i.e. climate change mitigation can have a positive effect on pro-environmental behaviour (Groot and Steg, 2010)
Changing behaviours at the individual level tends to neglect habits and contexts.
Cultural conventions ans social norms underpin consumer behaviours. Many argue that to change behaviours it is these cultural conventions and social norms which need to change.
However, this is difficult as they are entrenched in the fabric society and differ amongst social groups.
Scaling up: Changing societal behaviours.
Costanza proposes one means by which this could be addressed is via societal therapies. They argue that some of these 'shared behaviours' act as sort of social addictions. She takes therapeutic approach stating that individual therapies can be scaled up to deal with societal problems. Confronting addicts with their problems in an effort to scare them into change can often lead to denial, better to entwine risks with values and positive goals.
Social practice theory
People do not directly use resources. They use the services which these resources provide of which can be understood as social practices. I.e. water is used via showering, or carbon, via cooking or travelling.
Social practice theory urges policy to focus on these societal practices, how they change and are reproduced.
Practices are built up of three core elements...
1) - Objects and materials
2) - Skills and know-how
3) - Images and meanings. - Shove et al, 2012
To change practices the composition and interrelations of these elements must change
We must change the social norms/rules which underpin practices...
How we go about changing behaviour is is a contested and heavily debated topic...
There are multiple different mechanisms for behaviour change...
Areas such as water conservation, energy conservation and waste management have all been targeted through the lens of behaviour change - Barr, 2003
Promoting SD requires challenging decision making in such areas. Baker, 2016 argues it is only through increased participation that society can construct a 'shared public basis ' on which to to ground the legitimacy and acceptance of such restrictions and corrections.
Brundtland, 1987 " making the difficult choices involved in achiving SD will depend on the widespread support and involvment of
and NGO, scientific community, and industry. "
We get caught in societal addictions or social traps that provide short term rewards and yet are detrimental in the long run, they are not sustainable. One example of a social trap is our addiction to fossil fuels.
Sustainable development as a 'process of change' as described by Brundtland requires movements at societal levels which in turn requires movements and changes of the individual. behaviour change plays a hugely important role in the progression of sustainable development.
Why is behaviour change important?
Where does behaviour change fit under sustainable development?
Link behaviour change to energy conservation in the U.K
How can we change behaviour in the energy sector?
1) Change social practices...
2) change individual behaviour...
Talk about electric cars as an example....
Or is a systemic approach needed??