A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests an efficient way to encourage people to make a move towards preserving the environment. Experts said to link the people to the goals that are already personally important for them.
For the study, researchers Kerrie Unsworth and Ilona McNeill, contacted 183 working adults who commuted in private vehicles. They asked them to imagine that their company was closing their car park to extend their premises, offering as compensation a public transport subsidy.
A greener world may be easy to reach if we learn how to use this trick (c) gettyimages
However, there's one condition: the decision must be justified exclusively on environmental grounds. It was pointing out the benefits of reducing traffic density and jams, as well as increasing the proportion of energy-efficient vehicles on the road.
Though some people responded like in a control condition where no justifications were given at all, some participants reacted much more positively.
These people read a justification for the car park closure that was not exclusively focused on the environment, but was also tied to a range of personal goals like saving cash, encouraging more exercise, and having more time to read.
Similar beneficial effect was observed in linking personal goals to environmental behaviors such as, energy efficiency and waste reduction. When participants were shown the links between these green behaviors and a range of personal goals, they were more likely to say they’d be willing to adopt the green behaviors.
In another study, the researchers demonstrated that this approach can also predict broader pro-environment behaviors. The people who felt like adopting a green behavior and supported their own goals were more likely to sign a petition to for a government policy in that area.
This study means, rather than dig into ideological battles, we can achieve a greener world by finding mutual benefits together.