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Environmental Psychology Best Practices #VIScoast

Environmental Psychology Best Practices #VIScoast, a talk for Show Me the Coast 2015. https://showmethecoast2015.wordpress.com/

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Environmental Psychology Best Practices #VIScoast

  1. 1. ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Paige Jarreau Show Me the Coast 2015 #VIScoast
  2. 2. WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY? Environmental psychology and conservation psychology address the relationships between people and their environments, including the impacts that people’s attitudes and behaviors can have on the well-being of local and global environments. Conservation psychology uses “the insights and tools of psychology toward understanding and promoting human care for nature.” (S. D. Clayton, 2012) #VIScoast
  5. 5. THE SCIENCE AND PUBLIC/MEDIA “DISCONNECT” • Why is there a disconnect between scientific consensus on environmental issues, and public/media perception? • Interpreting Evidence – how humans interpret evidence, how they react to it, and how they form views based on it, is not merely related to the quality of the evidence. #VIScoast
  6. 6. MOTIVATED REASONING • A large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. #VIScoast
  7. 7. MOTIVATED REASONING • Confirmation bias = giving greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs • Disconfirmation bias = expending disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial • “Scientific evidence is highly susceptible to misinterpretation. Giving ideologues scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney #VIScoast
  8. 8. MOTIVATED REASONING • “Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney #VIScoast
  9. 9. MOTIVATED REASONING – THE PROBLEM WITH FACEBOOK • Social media like Facebook allows us to only see views and opinions that we agree with – through our friends • Users on Twitter, Facebook, etc. often have small, like-minded audiences. #VIScoast
  10. 10. PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS TO ACTION • Limited cognition – ignorance, uncertainty, optimism bias, perceived behavioral control • Ideologies – worldviews • Comparisons with others – social norms and networks, perceived inequity • Sunk costs – financial investments, conflicting values, goals and aspirations • Discredence – mistrust, denial • Perceived risks – functional, physical, financial, social, psychological • Limited behavior – tokenism, rebound effect #VIScoast
  11. 11. SAMPLING ISSUES • What samples of evidence do people use when making judgments? • People usually rely on a subset of information to make decisions, not all information possible, or even all the information they have. • Confirmation Bias – People will downplay new evidence that is inconsistent with their working knowledge, previous experiences, and even deeper values and beliefs. #VIScoast
  12. 12. MENTAL MODELS http://kamleshparmar.com/tag/mental-models-charlie-munger/ #VIScoast
  13. 13. FOR EXAMPLE, WEATHER VS. CLIMATE • “it was cold this spring… that global warming thing must be a myth” • Requires an understanding of how the climate system works, time scales, natural variability, climate forcing, basic climate science, etc. Greenhouse Gases: CO2, N20, CFCs, O2, CH4 (methane), H2, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, etc. #VIScoast
  14. 14. A BETTER WAY #VIScoast
  15. 15. INTERVIEWS WITH PSYCHOLOGISTS • What does the field of social or environmental psychology have to say about best communication or messaging strategies to engage pro-environmental attitudes and behavior? • Would you change your answers for communicating with a population in Louisiana, where people have more direct experience with coastal land loss / hurricanes? • From your experience, are there better ways of presenting messages, visual elements, etc. to connect with public audiences? #VIScoast
  16. 16. BASIC PRINCIPLES • Know your audience • Get your audience’s attention • Translate scientific data into concrete experiences • Beware the overuse of emotional appeals • Address scientific and climate uncertainties • Encourage group participation • Tap into social identities and affiliations • Make behavior change easier • Make it Visual #VIScoast
  17. 17. COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES INFORMED BY ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Targeted Messaging The Key Components Action Knowledge Listening vs. Telling General messaging best practices #VIScoast
  18. 18. Targeted Messaging • Know your audience • Understand their needs, motivations and values • Write from a local angle; local concerns • Avoid stereotypes video.pbs.org/video/2365470645/ • Be aware of your audiences’ cultural and religious values • Find aspects of an issue that resonate with audience beliefs & concerns • Target specific social networks with messages Conservative values: prosperity, individual sovereignty & freedom Issues that resonate: energy security, flood risks #VIScoast
  19. 19. Action Knowledge • Show people what they can do – give specific action alternatives • People need to believe that their actions can help – room for hope and self-efficacy messaging • Show connection between environmental behavior and impacts. Show people benefits/impacts of action Action = adaptation to environmental issues as a lifestyle Be solution-oriented vs. problem-oriented #VIScoast
  20. 20. • Explain root causes of environmental issues and tie it back to human behavior • Help audiences visualize impacts of their behaviors • Behavioral Feedback Action Knowledge Tidy Street Project - http://ow.ly/Mj2cX #VIScoast
  21. 21. Norm-activation model (Klöckner & Matthies, 2004) modified by Niko Schäpke & Felix Rauschmayer NORM-ACTIVATION MODEL OF PRO-ENVIRONMENTAL BEHAVIOR #VIScoast
  22. 22. • Create messages that spread, & connect on a deeper level • Authenticity • Think of audiences as active agents of change • Help audiences come up with their own solutions to environmental problems they are facing • Self-paced exploration of knowledge • Understand how your audience sees the problem • Foster communities of action Listening vs. Telling www.usaid.gov #VIScoast
  23. 23. General messaging best practices • Storytelling: Personal, local stories; good news • Avoid jargon, technical topics • Speak in a human voice • Talk about your own biases, insights, epiphanies (e.g. as a journalist or scientist) • Give a “face” to environmental impacts • Vivid messaging • Help audiences visualize future changes • Here and Now (immediate and local) • Source credibility: People trust other community members • Avoid hot button issues and terms #VIScoast
  24. 24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OUM1Yy6glM&feature=youtu.be #VIScoast
  25. 25. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE • Know your audience’s mental model • Ask them! • Mental models are not static — people can update them by correcting misinformation, inserting new building blocks, and/or making new connections with existing knowledge. Center for Research on Environmental Decisions http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/guide/sec1.html #VIScoast
  26. 26. “The people in Southern Louisiana that I have met all seem to have a close relationship to the land. They are acutely aware of their changing environment.” - Julie Dermansky, http://www.scilogs.com/from_the_lab_bench/beast-it-a- film-for-climate-science/ #VIScoast
  27. 27. • Consider people’s goals when framing a message. Tailoring messages to people’s natural promotion and prevention orientations increases the level of response for both groups. • Bring the message close to home. Highlight the local current and potential impacts. • Tap into people’s desire to avoid future losses rather than realize future gains. • Present information in a way that makes the audience aware of potential current and future losses related to inaction instead of focusing on current and future gains. • Remember that audiences may be more likely to make changes to their behavior if information is framed as “losing a little bit now instead of losing much more in the future.” http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/guide/sec1.html #VIScoast
  28. 28. PROCESSING INFORMATION The human brain has two different processing systems: the experiential processing system, which controls survival behavior and is the source of emotions and instincts, and the analytical processing system, which controls analysis of scientific information. Stronger motivator of action http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/guide/sec1.html #VIScoast
  29. 29. PROCESSING INFORMATION • When creating presentations, use experiential tools such as: • Vivid imagery, in the form of film footage, metaphors, personal accounts, real-world analogies, and concrete comparisons • Messages designed to create, recall, and highlight relevant personal experience and to elicit an emotional response. • A message that combines elements that appeal to both the analytic and experiential processing systems will best reach and resonate with an audience. http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/guide/sec1.html #VIScoast
  30. 30. THE WAY INFORMATION IS PRESENTED A chance of 1 in 1000 and .1% are mathematically but not psychologically equivalent. Representing the chances of occurrence as frequencies can improve understanding of a complex problem. When possible, use simple terms and graphs to convey numerical information. Information processing doesn’t occur in an emotional vacuum. Use vivid images, but do so with care to avoid emotional numbing or “despair” responses. Discounting importance of future events Judgments about the importance of future events/impacts tend to be discounted related to events happening now. Try to use specific and concrete examples of distance future outcomes, specifically in terms of local impacts that your audience can relate to. Influence of affective processing Mathematically equivalent information is not psychologically equivalent #VIScoast
  31. 31. #VIScoast
  32. 32. BEWARE OVERUSE OF EMOTIONAL APPEALS • The “finite pool of worry” people tend to pay more attention to near- term threats, which loom larger than long- term ones emotional numbing http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/guide/sec1.html #VIScoast
  33. 33. EMOTIONAL APPEALS • Appeals to the emotional system may work in the short term, but it is hard for people to retain that level of emotional intensity. • Balance information that triggers an emotional response with more analytic information. • Acknowledge that the audience has other pressing concerns. • Make audiences aware that emotional numbing can occur. #VIScoast
  35. 35. SOCIAL IDENTITIES AND GROUP ACTIVITY • Group affiliation can activate social goals (i.e., concern for others, maximizing the good of the group). • Participating in a group leads to greater intrinsic reward for individuals when group goals are achieved. • Local messengers may get a stronger response to calls for action… People are more likely to take action when they feel a sense of affiliation with the individual or institution making the request. #VIScoast
  36. 36. SOCIAL NORMS • People will often “follow the crowd.” • Messages given in an energy consumption study (by Cialdini) in San Diego: http://opower.com/uploads/library/file/2/understanding_and_motivating_energy_conservation_via_social_norms.pdf #VIScoast
  37. 37. http://opower.com/uploads/library/file/2/understanding_and_motivating_energy_conservation_via_social_norms.pdf #VIScoast
  38. 38. HOPE • In the face of climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, people may feel that human initiatives are constrained and even pointless. Can the environment provide a source of hope? • Create messages that include hope, “positive psychology” • When your messages contain negative information, pair them with positive visuals (e.g. images of healthy ecosystems when talking about biodiversity loss) & vice versa • Empowering, positive messages of action & community #VIScoast Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature, By Susan Clayton, Gene Myers