Changing Public Behavior
Unit 5 Introduction
Unit 5 prepares you to use what you learned when you applied “Step 4” in the Educating about Behavior and the Environment planning tool to your situation.
In Step #5 you narrow options for which behavior choice you will recommend in an outreach initiative.
In Unit 1, you considered the connection between the environmental management challenge and the design of an outreach strategy.
Unit 1 emphasized the benefit of basing an outreach strategy on information about the situation, including information about: specific environmental conditions, indicators of change, and the target audience.
Units 2, 3, and 4 built your understanding of what information you might need about your target audience to further your management goal.
In Unit 2 you identified one or more potential target audiences.
In Unit 3, you identified environmental practices applicable to the situation you want to manage.
In Unit 4 you studied behavior change theories and practiced using them by “testing” familiar environmental messages.
• Identify and understand “segments” of the relevant population.
• What does the audience already do relative to the preferred behavior? Are there barriers?
• What are audience skills/ interests/ needs?
As you work on your own topic, following the process suggested in Steps 1 - 4 may also lead you to reconsider your proposed target audience, and potentially to identify other audiences or other behaviors more likely to be adopted.
Linking environmental management with behavior change goals requires attention to the human dimension of environmental management.
In Unit 5 you will learn what data you’ll need to investigate whether the audience is ready for change, and how to gather and interpret data about your audience and their interest in the proposed environmental practices. In developing content for assessing your audience, you will be guided by the Integrative Model of Behavior we studied in Unit 4.
Applying the Integrative Model of Behavior: Do the members of your target audience
• Have a strong intention to perform the behavior?
• Have the necessary skills and abilities?
• Have any constraints preventing behavioral performance?
To develop your skills for creating and applying social assessment strategies, we have provided eight lessons in this Unit, along with multiple activities and forums. There are also 3 assignments for review by instructors.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth the effort. We've tried to break down the learning process into several small steps, but recognize that the process of conducting a social assessment is complex. You won't be an expert by the time you finish Unit 5, but you will be able to
- plan how to use social assessment,
- implement some simple data gathering processes yourself, and
- judge when and if you would like to work with an expert, as described in Unit 4.
In addition, in Lesson 5.2, you will consider the difference between planning to change the behavior of individuals vs. planning to change the behavior of group members.
NOTE: Content in Units 4 and 5 form the foundation for this course. As a result the list of citations in the "background" box can be lengthy. Background reading content includes links required for the lesson, as well as other resources of interest. Refer to the "background" box as needed.