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Second-order behaviour change

posted Oct 27, 2011, 4:18 AM by Howard Noble   [ updated Oct 27, 2011, 5:55 AM ]
One thing that has struck me about behaviour change initiatives with respect to sustainability is how coy we tend to be with defining exactly how we want people to change. A typical answer might be:
  1. recycle more
  2. turn idle lights and gadgets off
  3. print less
Although these are worthy contributions it seems to make the movement towards sustainability appear rather whimpering. I'd like to suggest these examples fall into a category we might call 1st order  - "as you were, please try to be a little less wasteful". What might fall into 2nd order behaviour change? I think sharing falls into this category, here's a nice info-graphic where sharing is applied to cars:

car sharing info-graphic

Changing from car ownership to car sharing is obviously a much greater change both logistically and psychologically. It means we have to adjust our relationship to a technology that entertains a great deal of political attention. 

We normally think of innovation as being technical - we build new things. Why can't we put innovation into the social realms on an equal footing. We are after all always telling ourselves we are 'free', why then are we so shackled by the Dragons of Inaction?