How to influence environmentally friendly behaviour : The effect of choice architecture

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Miljövetenskap

Abstract: In the debate on how to present and prevent climate change, the opinions have been conflicted. Some argue that a pessimistic projection will trigger a doomsday-effect and others argue that an optimistic projection enhances the risk of remaining passive. However, there is a fine line between what is too optimistic and too pessimistic. With the basis from choice architecture and the Zero Contribution Thesis, this study has dealt with how, and if, different projections could influence people's attitudes through nudges. By conducting two surveys which project different outcomes of climate change, one pessimistic, and one optimistic, this study aims at contributing to a greater understanding of how the use of communication can influence peoples’ attitudes and commitment towards climate change. When being a choice architect and constructing a nudge, it is crucial to carefully consider the design of the nudge since it is vital to understand that small details have a significant effect on the choices a person makes. By making small changes in our everyday life, we can reduce the impact of our ecological footprint. With the results it can be concluded that a purely pessimistic or optimistic projection may not be the most effective method when trying to influence environmentally friendly behaviour. Therefore, it could be beneficial to use a combination of both an optimistic- and pessimistic- projection of climate change. Furthermore, nudges could be considered as a legitimate policy tool when trying to create environmentally friendly behaviour.

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