Slow wins: Patience, perseverance and behavior change

Carbon Management (Impact Factor: 1.59). 02/2011; 2(6):607-611. DOI: 10.4155/cmt.11.59

ABSTRACT It is easy to despair at the unsustainability of human behavior; however, such despair may come from taking too narrow and pessimistic a view of human nature. Behavior change does happen but durable change happens only slowly. What is unnerving is that our environmental problems are urgent, perhaps accelerating. This
might give rise to intolerance for the slow-change notion suggested in this article. But, in fact, the opposite response is needed from us. The transition we face must be done well the first time with the changes made durable; it is unlikely we will get a second chance.

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Available from: Raymond K De Young, Jan 01, 2014
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    • "A limitation of this approach, however, is that it assumes that experts 'know' that particular behaviors are the 'right' ones and privileges those that implement these strategies as reformers (De Young 2011; Jickling 2005). "
    The Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities: Strategies, Methods and Outlook., Edited by Daniel A. Mazmanian, Hilda Blanco, 01/2014: chapter From information provision to participatory deliberation: Engaging residents in the transition toward sustainable cities.: pages 188-209; Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    ABSTRACT: We may soon face biophysical limits to perpetual growth. Energy supplies may tighten and then begin a long slow descent while defensive expenditures rise to address problems caused by past resource consumption. The outcome may be significant changes in daily routines at the individual and community level. It is difficult to know when this scenario might begin to unfold but it clearly would constitute a new behavioral context, one that the behavioral sciences least attends to. Even if one posits a less dramatic scenario, people may still need to make many urgent and perhaps unsettling transitions. And while a robust response would be needed, it is not at all clear what should be the details of that response. Since it is likely that no single response will fix things everywhere, for all people or for all time, it would be useful to conduct many social experiments. Indeed, a culture of small experiments should be fostered which, at the individual and small group level, can be described as behavioral entrepreneurship. This may have begun, hidden in plain sight, but more social experiments are needed. To be of help, it may be useful to both package behavioral insights in a way that is practitioner-oriented and grounded in biophysical trends and to propose a few key questions that need attention. This paper begins the process of developing a biophysical psychology, incomplete as it is at this early stage.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2014; 5(1255). DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01255

Questions & Answers about this publication

  • Raymond K De Young added an answer in Environmental Psychology:
    Can anyone recommend me literature about psychological models of environmental concern?
    I am undertaking research into concern for the natural environment and I wondered if anyone could suggest models of environmental concern that I should investigate? My main interests are concerned with the psychological interaction of humans with the natural environment.
    Raymond K De Young
    I wrote a short piece that compares a few different theories-of-change. I tried to highlight what interventions promote durable behavior change.

    I've also attached some slides I use in reviewing some of the common models of behavior change. The last slide compares a few models and shows that they may be using the same constructs but with slightly different names. (A version of the "toothbrush problem." No one want to use someone else's toothbrush).

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