Common Cause for Nature: A practical guide to values and frames in conservation
Source: Public Interest Research Centre
Author(s): Elena Blackmore, Ralph Underhill, Jamie McQuilkin, Rosie Leach, Tim Holmes
This guide offers recommendations for the conservation sector and others on how to ensure their work strengthens the values that motivate people to protect and enjoy nature. Part of a longer report produced in collaboration with 13 UK conservation organisations, it is based on original analysis of these groups’ communications, workshop discussions, survey responses and in-depth interviews….
Psychologists, advertisers and politicians have long understood that we are not rational. The ‘rational individual’ does not exist; even the most scientific or logically minded are influenced by values and emotions. Marketers use this knowledge to sell products, appealing to whichever values do so most effectively: to our desire for status in selling cars; to our hedonism when selling holidays; and so on. When selling a particular product to a mass audience, this approach works well.
When the objective is broader—as it is when communicating about environmental issues—problems arise. When we appeal to a particular value, we do not simply affect a purchase decision: we also influence people’s social and environmental behaviour as a whole. Appeals to self-interested goals—wealth, status and public image among them— can actually reduce our environmental concern.
The conservation sector has enjoyed many successes; but a vast range of indicators point to a natural world in decline, and public concern about the environment is at a 20-year low.1 Something must change drastically if we are to stop the loss of wildlife or limit the impacts of climate change. If we want people to care about the natural world and act to protect it, we must promote values that motivate them to do so—and think very carefully before encouraging self-interest.
Based on information gleaned from across the sector and psychological research on human values, this guide aims to help conservation groups consider which kinds of values will help them achieve their goals.
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