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Promoting Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing - page 10 / 12





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designer), we are more likely to be effective if we can provide research findings on the barriers to an activity that they are interested in promoting. To date, psychologi- cal research on barriers primarily has been confined to energy efficiency and waste reduction. We quickly need to develop knowledge regarding the barriers to a much broader set of activities. Further, we need to participate in interdisciplinary efforts to identify the most important activities to research.

Conducting barrier research will add significantly to the length of time required to deliver a project. In many cases, it is reasonable to assume that collect- ing this information can add 4 to 8 weeks to the length of a project. Further, obtain- ing this information can add substantially to the cost of delivering a program. This additional time and cost are likely to pale, however, compared to the time and cost of redelivering a program because the first attempt failed to change behavior. It would be useful if we could provide return-on-investment (ROI) information that compared the relative success of projects in which barriers were first identified with those in which they were not.

As with identifying barriers, time and financial constraints also limit the likeli- hood that programs will be piloted or evaluated. Given that psychological research has revealed that many programs do not change behavior, adopting pilots and eval- uations is particularly important.

Over the last several years, I have been attempting to make psychological knowledge more accessible to program planners through delivering workshops and writing specifically for them and by developing a Web site (www.cbsm.com) that allows easier access to relevant information. For example, the Web site pro- vides a guide to fostering sustainable behavior and searchable databases of relevant articles, case studies, and graphics. Further, the site provides the opportunity for program planners to share information with one another and with psychologists through a discussion forum. The feedback that I have received on these attempts to make psychological knowledge more visible suggests that program planners are willing recipients of this information and are anxious to have a dialogue with psychologists regarding program delivery. To ensure that this happens, we need to make certain that attempts by psychologists to work more actively with program planners are not an impediment to tenure and promotion.


To date, little attention has been paid to ensuring that psychological expertise regarding behavior change in general, and fostering sustainable behavior in partic- ular, is shared with program planners. Substantial opportunities exist to work with these individuals in promoting a wide range of sustainable behaviors. As environ- mental psychologists we need to consider how best to share our expertise with program planners and ensure that our efforts are well integrated with their needs. Behavior change may be central to the transition to a sustainable future, but

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