The World Economic Forum has singled out a shortlist of key global challenges including food security, global health, inclusive economic growth, climate change, and natural resource protection. If they are to be addressed, they require change within public and private sectors, together with an engaged citizenry. Current strategies for encouraging behavior change that addresses global problems are failing because they are mistakenly based on the belief that raising awareness is sufficient to inspire action. Evidence shows that shifting attitudes is not enough; only evidence-based strategies aimed at actual behavior change can lead to impact.
What can be done?
Decision science is devoted to understanding why people behave as they do and why they make the decisions they make. Cognitive scientists, social psychologists, behavioral economists, and many others have researched and recognized the social and unconscious influences on judgment and decision-making. Decision science tools have been deployed very effectively in other sectors, such as advertising and marketing, but have not yet been broadly applied to conserve natural resources, protect wildlife, maintain healthy ecosystems, or battle urgent problems like climate change. Decision science can help environmental organizations and policy initiatives use decision science as a practical path to shifting attitudes, changing behavior, and accelerating tangible outcomes that lead to measurable impact.
How Root Solutions is meeting the challenge:
Root Solutions researches and analyzes findings from decision science to identify the most robust principles for promoting behavior designed to protect our planet, to determine how they can most effectively be used to support campaigns, policies, and institutions, and to promote original research in applied decision science. We have developed a Practitioners’ Guide that walks organizations through the design of these behavioral interventions to increase the frequency of positive pro-planet behaviors. We also provide targeted trainings for organizations and engage with millennials through our student “green nudge” competition. Examples of our recent projects include:
- Consulting with Rising Sun Energy Center to decrease water and energy consumption in 5,000 Bay Area homes
- Working with The Nature Conservancy’s water team to identify stakeholder barriers and explore options to remove impediments to change
- Designing a “commitments campaigns” with the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association to reduce human disturbance of coastal bird populations
- Working with the Marine Mammal Center to encourage a reduction in plastic use
- Working with the University of California, Berkeley to implement solutions designed to decrease campus paper consumption