Conservation Psychology Principles - Part 1
The main conservation psychology and ecopsychology principles that influence people to act on environmental issues are invoking the emotional connection between people and the environment and invoking associations that help people understand how conservation of the environment is critical to human health and the rest of nature. Strategies that can influence people to change behavior towards environmental issues involve sparking empathy and understanding by using virtual technologies, using compelling imagery, and forging through experiential events like eating cookies made with smog.
STRATEGIES, TACTICS, AND METHODS
Establish a connection between people and animals
- Empathy is a tactic that is necessarily used by conservation psychologists to drive feeling and action as evidenced by the human-centered approach at Mad*Pow, and National Geographic Explorer photographer Ronan Donovan's use of Max the chimpanzee to produce heart-tugging imagery to tell stories.
- The SEE Change Institute's strategy to influence people to take action for environmental concerns is through imagery on popular TV and film media, and they seek to not just change people's behavior but to seek creative methods of communication.
Demonstrate the connections between people and place
- Dr. Jeremy Bailenson of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University describes using virtual technology to help people change attitudes and behaviors in the same way as actually experiencing a climate change related disaster makes people believe in climate change, but without the damage.
- This tactic stresses bringing what seems like faw-away events to the forefront and spark people to action sooner rather than later.
APPROACHES AND EFFECTIVENESS
Respect people's autonomy and the psychology of motivation
- Amy Bucher, Pj.D, addressed the psychology of motivation and the importance of recognizing self-autonomy when designing behavior change tactics for individual, group, and societal levels so that it produces meaningful results and preserves individual autonomy.
- Recognizing that there is no universal morality associated with conservation it is found that values-based appeals work for some but are off-putting to others. Important themes to remember with this approach are that positioning conservation behaviors as individual initiatives and goals is an effective way to help people adopt behavior changes to affect and maintain conservation efforts even if for future generations.
- Empathetic stories and visuals that tug at people's heart strings are well-received and inspire people change behaviors.
UX Planet and 2017 WWF's annual Fuller Symposium themed "The Nature of Change: The Science of Influencing Behavior" provided a plethora of information regarding the necessity of using behavior change science to conservation to influence positive actions on environmental issues. They covered psychology of motivation, the role of identity and values, behavioral change as a systems issue, and empathy as a change agent to identify how to get people to enact positive changes for the environment. This symposium tackles this conversation of how use conservation psychology to influence people to make positive changes for the environment and contains a plethora of valuable information for this research. All presentations from the symposium are available online and can be accessed here. We primarily used information from the many presentations from the symposium due to their applicability to the topic and the information came from numerous credible and reputable sources. Other sources were also consulted and all information is included above.