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Behavioural Change and Rational Choice Theory

Behavioural Change and Rational Choice Theory






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    Behavioural Change and Rational Choice Theory Behavioural Change and Rational Choice Theory Presentation Transcript

    • CPT737: Sustainability in Practice Lecture 3 Rational choice theory and the ‘value action gap’ Richard Cowell, [email_address] , Room 2.74, ext. 76684
    • Rational choice theory:
      • RCT is a bundle of tools that seek to explain large-scale social phenomena (provision of public goods, collective action) on the assumption that individual act in a consistent way according to some assessment of costs and benefits
      • Best example of application to environment as a ‘public good’ is Hardin’s tragedy of the commons
    • Evolution of RCT:
      • Looking beyond material costs and benefits, to non-material benefits (solidarity benefits, expressive benefits)
      • Applied by Rydin and Pennington to collective, political action, to explain why people act, with some issues, but ‘free ride’ with others
      • They looked at incentive structures offered by certain kinds of issues and groups: green space, air quality, beaches, and role of local media
    • Issues with RCT:
      • Helps begin to explain why expressed values may not match actions, but …
      • Is our behaviour really always self-interested (and if our behaviour can always be described as ‘rational’, does ‘rationality’ mean anything?)
      • Issues with the assumptions (i) about rationality (what about relatively unreflective behaviour?) and (ii) where our sense of ‘costs’ and ‘benefits’ come from
    • Eurobarometer survey
      • Please complete the attached survey
      • Reflect on the methodology: difficulties in answering; validity of the findings
      • What patterns can you find within and between countries?
      • What does it show about actual behaviour?
    • Blake’s analysis of the value-action gap
      • Looked at UK Government’s 1990s ‘Going for Green’ initiative
      • Mass media awareness-raising campaign, including five point green code: ‘cut down waste’; save energy and natural resources’; ‘travel sensibly’; ‘prevent pollution’ and ‘look after the local environment’
      • Used qualitative interviews to understand people’s responses
      • Why do you think there might be this gap?
    • Explaining the gap
      • Information issues , and the poverty of the ‘information deficit model’ used by Government
      • Practical issues , like time, resources, space and facilities
      • Attitudinal issues , concerning lifestyles, allocation of responsibility, efficacy and trust
      • So, says Blake, we need to be more sensitive to context in which information is consumed, interpreted, and which shapes responses
    • ‘ Green architecture’ (Horton)
      • Connecting identity and structural conditions
      • Horton emphasises need to understand material aspects of culture, rather than purely psychological ‘attitudes’
      • He looked at objects, places, times involved in maintaining green activist identities in Lancaster – people ‘perform’ green identity through these spaces, which keeps them in line with a ‘green script’
      • A ‘green architecture’ would be about creating things, times, spaces to make it easier to live a green lifestyle