Laurence Menhinick watches a 30 minute video on behaviour change and comes away impressed…
“ People just don’t care and are too lazy to do anything about climate change”
“All it needs to work is regulations or incentives”
“We need to educate more”
Sounds familiar? Rings true even? Well they’re all myths according to Ruben Anderson who asks you to think again and act where it counts in this behaviour change video.
Within 30 minutes, Anderson exposes all pre-conceived ideas as mere clichés and in fact:
- We live in information overload: leaflets notoriously bring poor results
- Regulations won’t be enough to make a difference
- Offering incentives can actually make the problem worse – as temporary schemes reap temporary rewards
If you also consider that quite frankly awareness of climate change is already high, the reason information doesn’t translate is because change is “pain and fear”: yes, once again my friends, the key to behaviour traits lies within the human brain (which has a lot to answer for!!).
Anderson uses the value circumplex ( also known as the Leary circumplex, a circular chart where characteristic human behaviour and values and displayed in relation to each other) to demonstrate that altruism and financial considerations for instance are at complete odds, in which case fines or incentives in effect switch off emotional response and behaviour change.
He also delves into the brain’s limited attention capability- with only 3hrs a day of active deep thinking available, most of our actions are in fact automatic, and any call to changing habits demands valuable brain power, hence it’s easier to do as usual. Now, to overcome all these “brain protection schemes”, you have to work with the system and reduce the amount of effort required to act. For instance, if you change the default behaviour so that the environmental option is the easiest and opting out requires an effort, you’ve hit the proverbial no-brainer. Eventually, when new reflexes are repeated over time, new neuronal paths are strengthened and they become the automatic behaviour norm… So, Anderson advocates to :
- encourage positive reinforcement,
- make the default (sought) behaviour easy,
- engage people emotionally
- and above all expand social proof
Since your behaviour is influenced by what is happening around you (we’ve all seen it with littering: if it’s already dirty it’s OK to do it too), if we make good practice very visible it is bound to influence others and change their behaviour too. A sort of activism by stealth then…