Using stories to promote conservation behavior: A guidebook
ABSTRACT Environmental crises will soon force us to rethink our patterns of resource consumption. We face numerous challenges to our prosperity: climate stress, water shortage, air pollution, food insecurity, energy constraints, and massive amounts of waste. The demands environmental practitioners face differ qualitatively from those of only a decade ago. Just as these environmental stresses are occurring faster than ever, so is the rate of behavior change we need to thrive. Never before have so many individual behaviors had to change in so short a time.
An added challenge is that these behaviors, once changed, must stay changed. Unfortunately, popular ways to promote conservation behavior among citizens are more apt to affect short-term practices than to create self-sustaining change. Certainly, the urgency of environmental problems makes immediate behavior change a major concern. Of equal importance, however, is the need for the new behavior to continue. Conservation behavior researchers are exploring many new educational and behavioral change techniques. This guidebook outlines one emerging approach: using stories as an advanced form of environmental education and as a way to change behavior. It seeks to persuade environmental practitioners that stories (e.g., success anecdotes,
case studies) can prove a powerful tool in such change if used correctly. It also serves as a first step toward getting people to identify, write and use good stories.