Rare, Behavioral Insights Team webinar: Expanding the environmental toolkit

Rare, Behavioral Insights Team webinar: Expanding the environmental toolkit

Hi, everybody, thank you so
much for joining us today. My name is Zach Lowe. I’m the director of communications at Rare.
We are coming to you live from the BE.Lab, which is a training space for our Center for
Behavior & the Environment at Rare’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia right outside Washington DC. I am joined by Kevin Green and Katie Williamson, two members of our BE.Center team. And we are joined across the pond by our friends Caro Reiner and Toby Park. Hi guys. Caro: Hello
Toby: Good afternoon. Zach: Thank you for joining us. Good afternoon, good morning, wherever you are. So before we dive in I just want to cover a few housekeeping notes. Over the next 30 minutes, we are going to be discussing how behavioral insights can expand the toolkit used by practitioners in conservation and environmental causes. There will be some
opportunities for audience participation in the form of polls, but due to trying to keep
this to a very tidy 30 minutes, we’re not going to do live Q&A. If you have questions
feel free to submit them via the Q&A function and we will be sure to get back to you in
a post-webinar communication. If you want to participate in the Twitter conversation
about the webinar, please do so. Follow us at the #behaviorchange4nature. That’s the American spelling of behavior just trying to save you a character space. And the number
4 behavior-change-4-nature. So just recently, the Behavioural Insights Team and Rare produced this toolkit – Behavior Change for Nature: A behavioral science toolkit for practitioners. In it, we have 15 behavioral strategies to help practitioners encourage behavior change, along with tips on how to
apply them. It just so happens that the release of this new resource comes almost at the same time that the United Nations issued its global assessment on biodiversity and painted a very dire picture for global biodiversity, and ascribing much of the problem to human activity whether
it’s overfishing, deforestation, habitat loss through climate change, pollution of land
and water. Kevin, this really couldn’t be more timely. Kevin: That’s right, Zach. Most
of the environmental challenges of our time, they share at least one thing in common – to solve them we have to start behaving differently. different to the way that they’re using their
natural resources. This report confirms that in no uncertain terms. The good news is we’re taking notice as a result of the IPPS report and some governments are even now committing
to making biodiversity loss as high a priority as climate change. Zach: So, Toby, Let me
go over to you. We say we are expanding the conservation or environmentalists toolkit. What do we mean by that? What can we be doing better? Toby: As you say, the current
toolkit, the conventional tool kit, and when I say that I mean in the various forms of
rules, regulations or material and financial incentives or awareness raising campaigns.
That is certainly not a bad one. They can often be the most effective tools we have,
in particular the bans, quotas and strong financial incentives can be very effective.
We need to keep on using those when they are most effective. But of course they’re not
a silver bullet. Regulations can be difficult to enact or hard to enforce in real world
situations. Financial incentives can often backfire and undermine the good intentions
to act. And we also know that raising awareness often isn’t enough to actually change behavior.
The application of behavior insights can augment these tools, it can make them more effective,
but it can also add additional more novel strategies of great value to practitioners on
the front lines of conservation and environmental issues. The strategies that we offer in the toolkit try and do this in a few ways. Firstly, they attempt to take greater account of the context
in which people are making decisions or behaving. This reflects the fact that our choices and
actions are not solely driven by internal factors, in other words values, motivations,
attitudes etc. They are also very much shaped by our physical environment and social
surroundings as well. Secondly, we try and put a strong focus on more non-conscious psychological processes. Things like mental shortcuts and competent biases which do shape our decision
making and behavior rather more than we tend to realize. Then, thirdly, we put a strong
focus on our actual behavior. When I say that I mean as distinct from attitudes awareness
and so on. For example, you might know that eating a veggie burger helps cut greenhouse
gas emissions, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually going to do it. We need to find approaches
that help actually changing behavior rather than just raising awareness. Zach: That’s great. Let’s go ahead and dive in, because what we want to do today is not walk you page-by-page
through a resource, but instead, we want to do some “show” rather than just “tell.” Caro,
let me begin with you, with getting into some real life examples of how the toolkit can be used to help shift behavior. Let’s start with one that people might be familiar with, and that’s
material incentives, one of the strategies outlined in the toolkit. Caro, can you give
an example of how we might enhance material incentives with behavioral insights? Caro: Yes, absolutely. This study was about getting hairdressers in Zambia to give out condoms
to promote safe sex in their community. They tried three different kinds of incentives
to encourage this behavior: a small cash incentive, a larger cash incentive, then the third incentive
was a gold star sticker that was essentially put into the window front before giving out
the condoms. Zach: So, we had three incentives here, small cash incentives, large cash incentives,
and gold stars. This is going to be our first opportunity for audience participation. Everyone,
I’m going to launch a poll right now. Which approach here was more effective? Small cash
incentive, large cash incentive, or gold star? Everybody, go ahead and weigh in. Give everyone a couple seconds and we’ll see what you all thought. This is cool, real time. Give me
some witty banter as we wait for people to weigh in. Kevin: Stakes are high. Zach: Give
everyone just a couple more seconds. Excellent. Let’s see what you all thought. Slightly over
half of you thought gold stars, and 27% thought small cash incentive and 17% thought large
cash incentive. Caro, tell us what actually happened. Caro: The majority did get it right.
As it turns out, the gold stars were the most significant incentive that was tried in the
study. Well done, to the audience. Zach: What is the strategy behind this? Why did this work? Caro: This study is a good example of how symbolic rewards can in some instances
be more effective than monetary incentives. Symbolic rewards like the gold stars, in this
example, can help to amplify social motivation that might otherwise have been crowded out
by financial rewards. In other words, these hairdressers took pride and cared more about
showing their community that they’re engaging with this positive campaign than about making
some extra cash. The implications of behaviorally informed incentives like this one, are important
for policymakers whose job it is essentially to decide on large scale incentive schemes.
Of course, it’s equally important for NGOs and practitioners and other organizations
that are using incentives in their day-to-day work as tools to encourage certain behaviors. Zach: Katie, let me go to you. Where might we use this strategy in a conservation field
or an environmental context? Does it work in those contexts? Katie: Absolutely. As Caro
said, the goal here is signal these pro-social or intrinsic motivations. You really want
to be mindful of how financial incentives might crowd those out or even provide a kind
of license to do a certain behavior because they already paid for it. In the conservation
world, we could see, for instance, we could give maybe a flag or a plaque or a badge,
some other, in this case it’s talking about the gold stars. We can see that for giving
that to maybe fishers or agricultural practitioners or farmers in exchange for certain good practices
for their adhering to certain standards. Again, this idea of being able to show and be proud of what they’re doing and then show that. Zach: So, if a small scale fisher sees another fisher with a brightly painted boat, they might want
to understand what’s going on and maybe adopt their practice, be more likely to adopt their
practice. Katie: Right, and it’s given in the same way that incentives might be given, in that it’s something that we only grant if they adhere to certain standards, so it
marks them in a certain way and might help shift that behavior. It’s worth knowing that
there’s some other ways we can boost material incentives in addition to these non-financial
symbols. For instance, lotteries and group-based incentives are also really great way to do
this. Zach: Okay, awesome, all right, let’s go ahead and get into number two. Let’s take
a look at another strategy in the toolkit and this one is best represented in the case
study about household solar panels. Kevin, tell us a little bit about this one. Kevin: Sure. We’ve got another quiz for the listeners. There’s a study in Connecticut that’s really
interesting. A couple of researchers, Graziano and Gillingham, they saw an uptick in solar
panel installations in Connecticut in some areas and they were interested in learning
what factors were most influential in whether or not people installed solar panels. They
measured a bunch of demographic characteristics, built environment features, things like that,
to see what could explain the different clusters they were observing. Zach: All right, we have our next audience participation opportunity. Let’s go ahead and take a look at this poll.
All right, everyone, go ahead and take a few seconds. Which one of the following was more
influential in the household purchasing solar panels? Either median household income, proximity
to the neighbors, race, or political affiliation. Go ahead, take a few seconds and weigh in. Zach: Music – that will be in the next one. Kevin: Soundtrack. Zach: Soundtrack, we’re always looking to improve. All right, everyone,
can take a few more seconds. I still see a few weighing in. All right, let’s end it there. What did you all say? Well, again, over half of you have gone with proximity to the neighborhood or proximity to neighbors, political affiliation about 27% and median household income at 40%.
Nobody going with race, interesting. Kevin, tell us what actually happened. Kevin: Well,
we got some expert listeners, so our work is going well so far. They found that the
proximity to neighbors with solar panels installed was actually the most influential factor.
These neighbor effects that they call them actually led to an increase in the average
number of installations within a half-mile radius by 0.44 which seems small but it’s
actually pretty significant in this case was the most significant factor. Zach: All right,
let me go over to maybe a situation where the behavior isn’t as prevalent. A good example
here could be moving people toward plant-rich diets. We can’t go around saying that 90%
of Americans are, or anywhere, are vegetarians. When preferred behavior isn’t as prevalent,
what do we do in that case, Katie? Katie: Sure, that’s a really good question. In this
case, we really want to drive on dynamic norms. Which is when we were talking about how behavior
is changing over time and not just talking about these static observations, more like
the prevalence of a particular behavior. In the case of eating less meat, there’s this
one great Stanford study that came out a couple of years ago where they tried saying to a
group of people over the last five years, 30% of Americans have started to make an effort
to eat less meat, and they found that to be more effective than just talking about how
many people are currently making an effort to eat less meat and then through that really
signaling that there’s this change in behavior particularly in the direction that we’re looking
for. Even if you have a small percentage, it’s more about this growing trend that helps to signal that this norm is coming. Zach: Toby, let me go to you, how might this work in other contexts? Toby: Highlighting social norms and related techniques like using social
comparisons have been generally effective in quite a range of contexts. It’s probably
actually one of the most well evidenced behavioral nudge techniques and actually quite interesting,
I think, for this particular conversation. They’re particularly relevant to promoting
pro-social or moral behaviors, and I would include within that category pro-environmental
behaviors. Maybe even more so to issues relating to public goods or shared resources. Things
like trying to discourage overfishing, try and encourage people to be more energy efficient.
The reason social norms are so relevant to these kinds of situations is twofold. First,
we tend to reciprocate the behaviors that other people do to us. We’re more likely to
act pro-environmentally or for the public good or for someone else’s benefit if we know
that other people are also doing the same thing. For example, simply telling people
that most other people reuse their towels in hotels or telling people that most other
people are using less energy in the household than they are, have both been shown to be
pretty effective at encouraging those pro-environment behaviors. Second, in a way our peers, our
neighbors, those overlooking our behavior tend to police our behavior in a way, essentially,
through peer pressure. That by making our actions more observable to the group, we’re
more likely to do the right thing. A nice example of that actually comes from the UK
where government departments, a number of years ago, were encouraged to reduce their
energy consumption within their own buildings. In part, that was effective because they published
a public lead table on the energy use of the departments to create social comparison. Zach:
Excellent, we’ve gone through now material incentives, behavioral norms, then also dynamic
norms. Let’s get into our third case study. We’re going to get into our third case study
now and this one is about a bike share study in Portland, Oregon, but the Behavioural Insights
Team was actually was involved in this. Caro, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this
study. Caro: Like you said, this was a study that our team in the US ran in Portland, and
the goal was to encourage more sustainable modes of transport and, specifically, in this
case, it was about getting people to sign up to the city’s bike sharing scheme. We designed
leaflets that were distributed to a sample population and, essentially, it was distributed
to two distinct groups of households. One group were people that were living in an area
where new docking stations had just been installed. Whereas in the other group, we had people
that had just moved houses through the area where the bike sharing scheme is operated. Zach: Let’s pause there and give our audience another chance to weigh in. This one, the
bike share in Portland. Which was more effective at getting people to sign up for a bike share
program? Was it fliers to people who lived in an area where there are newly installed stations
or sending material to people who had just moved to the area? Let’s give everyone a chance
to weigh in. Zach: Let’s see what people said. This one, the majority said giving fliers to people who had just moved to the
area versus those people who lived in an area where there are newly installed bike racks.
Caro, why don’t you tell us what happened. Caro: Well done to the audience again. The
majority was right. We did find that telling people who had just moved to the serviced
area was more effective. This study in particular the effectiveness of timely moments which can be points of disruption, essentially, that force you to make a decision but it can
also be moments during which we’re more receptive to information, messages, or other outside
influences. Moving houses really is such a disruptive moment that forces you to make
a decision about your new commuting and travel behavior. Therefore, there’s a timely moment
to get you to consider, perhaps, more sustainable modes of transport as well. Zach: Big life
changes. Kevin, let me go to you. How might this work knowing that this timely moment
approach, how could this work in another context, particularly conservation or environmental
issues? Kevin: Sure. In the toolkit, we talk about this as a strategy to use timely moments,
prompts and reminders. We’ve seen prompts and reminders work well in a number of areas.
For example, it’s often used in get out to vote efforts here in the US, possibly other
areas as well. Political parties will actually send reminders to your mailbox, sometimes
quite frequently, to remind you when to vote and sometimes even asking you to commit to
a specific plan which relates to another strategy which we’ll talk about. Really, the same thing
can and has worked in conservation. Imagine targeting people when they’re booking a flight
or when they arrive at an airport on about illegal wildlife trade that can happen in
a particular destination where they’re headed or even something as simple as providing visible
markers in natural habitats where hikers and walkers can see them or something as complex
and hairy as helping communities rebuild after periods of disruption or natural disaster
which you don’t, of course, ever want to wish to happen but you can see timely moments
to introduce new, more sustainable uses. Zach: Excellent, all right, those are three case studies that highlighted three of the behavioral strategies that are outlined in the toolkit
Behavior Change for Nature. These were instances that were maybe local, household, individual
behaviors. How can we think bigger picture to achieve maybe a wide or systemic change,
and Toby I’ll go to you based on your work at the BIT, how can we scale this up? Toby:
That’s a really good question, and it’s something we think about a lot at the moment, actually.
The first thing to say is that you can actually achieve widespread change within one small
nudge, one campaign at a time. It is possible. It’s this idea of radical incrementalism,
the idea that in the aggregate, lots of small improvements can really start to add up because
we can also try to shortcut that process if we’re a bit smarter about where we direct
our efforts. I guess, often, that’s a question of identifying the pressure points within
communities or within markets. That small change of behavior in one area can actually
tip the balance and trigger bigger change. I think, for me, the clearest example of that
that we talk about quite a bit is the recent sugar tax in the UK. The way this works is
essentially by putting a fairly modest tax on sugary drinks, of course, some consumers
will, therefore, stop buying those drinks, but it tends to be pretty marginal. Only a
small proportion of consumers would move away from those products. If we’re clever about
how we set the threshold of that tax, that’s often enough to motivate drinks manufacturers
to then reformulate their drinks so that they’re exempt from the tax. Because what that means
is that we’re then all drinking less sugar because the drinks themselves contain less
sugar, without actually necessarily needing to be one of those people that would’ve bothered
to change products in the face of the tax. By leveraging the behavior of a small proportion
of consumers, you can really tip the threshold and have bigger impacts in the market. Of
course, that works with the tax, but the logic is just the same if you use some other non-financial
tools, some nudge, some effective campaign to shift behavior. The point is identifying
where it is on the margins that would then lead to a slightly bigger, knock-on effect.
That needs, obviously, a bit of an understanding about behavior but also understanding the
market economics, understanding the dynamics within a community and so on. Zach: That’s a great example of you using a traditional tool with the behavioral insight. Let me follow
up with you, Toby and Caro, we re saying that we’re trying to expand the toolkit with behavioral
insights. Working with policymakers, what has been the reception? Have policymakers
been receptive to changing or adjusting tools and using behavioral insights? Toby: Yes, I would say so. I think it has been well-received. It’s still obviously somewhat early days in
the grand scheme of things, these techniques in the policy world. That said, I think we’ve
had as much policy activity is ultimately about human behavior in some fashion. These
tools are certainly useful in that regard and certainly being recognized as such. I
guess the ultimate sign of success would be for BITs demise as an organization. Obviously,
in many ways, we don’t want that to happen. It would also speak to the fact that behavioral
science would no longer be seen as a novelty add-on and really be part and parcel of standard
thinking when you’re thinking about policy. We’re obviously not quite there yet. Certainly,
many governments and many ministries around the world are adopting these approaches. Certainly,
several departments in the UK have a really established an insights teams of their own.
Yes, we hope it’s here to stay and will become part of standard thinking. Zach: I like that. I think we’re all working toward a world where we no longer have jobs. Before we close, I
want to ask the panel about how our viewers and people attending the webinar today can
take that next step. They’ve seen the webinar, they’ve downloaded the report, so what’s next?
How can they use it? Kevin, what do you think? Kevin: In the back of the toolkit, there’s
a description of methodologies, both BITs and Rare’s approaches to applying these ideas
in the field. There’s lots of different ways to do this kind of thing, even beyond that.
Really, for any way you’re looking at it, the first step is really to define the behavior
that you’re seeking to influence or to change. So identifying that specific behavior and
being as specific as possible rather than attitudes or awareness or values as Toby mentioned.
In the beginning, getting specific about the behaviors you want to change is always the
first step. Then we spend a lot of time researching a particular audience that we’re designing
for so that we know what will work in that very specific context and then, when possible,
using rigorous approaches to testing ideas, testing solutions to learn about what’s working
and what isn’t, and possibly refining to actually have an impact in the field. It’s also really
important to say that we just want to lower the barriers to trying this stuff out. Anyone
who’s playing a role in addressing environmental challenges in their work is every day making
decisions about how to influence behavior. There are innumerable ways to try and incorporate
some of this into those daily decisions and whether it’s rigorously or not. At Rare we’re
really setting out to make these strategies and the science that informs them really more
accessible to everyone. I’d say, if you want some help give us a call or give the BIT team
a call but also feel confident to go out on your own and try some things, learn what works
and what doesn’t. Then make sure to keep us posted so that we can all keep learning. Zach: With that, let me go ahead and share our contact information. We definitely, on that point,
encourage you to get in touch with us at the Center for Behavior & the Environment. You
can email us at [email protected] Follow us on Twitter @rare_org and be sure to get
in touch with our friends at the Behavioral Insights Team. You can email Toby at [email protected] and be sure to give them a follow @B_I_Tweets. Thank you very much. Before we conclude, just
a couple notes. We really appreciate everyone attending today. I want to give a big, big
thank you to Toby and Caro and our friends at the Behavioral Insights Team for joining
us for this webinar. Right after the webinar, everyone attending should receive a survey
in your email inbox. We would love it if you would take just a couple minutes. That’s all
it takes to fill that out. Give us some feedback so we can continue to improve, talking about
timely moments. I’m learning as we go. Even I can apply these tools. A quick plug, on
May 30 Rare’s Fish Forever Team we’re going to be hosting another webinar on how we can
apply these behavioral insights to helping fishers adopt more sustainable behaviors and
how that plays into protecting coastal oceans and how we’re attacking that challenge in
communities in which we work. Thank you all very much. I’m going to quickly share where
you can download the report. If you go to rare.org/center, you can download the report
there. We encourage you to do so. Fill out that survey and thank you all so much for
joining us today. We’ll see you next time.

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