Everyone just wants to have fun

Monday, December 6th, 2010 | Our Philosophy

Helter-Skelter donation box

Anybody trying to influence behaviour does well to remember that most people are trying to have a nice life and to have fun.
Global Cool – which promotes low-carbon behaviours by making them attractive and easy – keeps coming across examples where fun is much more important than rational thought. Motorists speeding towards speed camera are much more influenced by an unsmiley face than by the threat of points on their licence or a fine. Children totally uninterested in charitable giving often love pushing coins into helter-skelters.

The ‘fun theory’ got people to take the stairs by turning them into a piano for a day. The behaviour stuck, even once the keyboard had gone.

Environmentalists seeking to influence behaviour often err in assuming that people are rational – that they will fear negative consequences and want to save money.

Professor Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey RESOLVE programme thinks that not only is this simply wrong, but that it “denies people their humanity”. Insulating your doors and windows might save £50 and not cost much money, so an economically rational person would do it. But hardly anyone does, because it takes time. People – with jobs, children, the gas bill to pay, lawn to mow, washing to do, insurance to renew – will spend a precious spare hour in ‘quality time’ – with their partner, with their children, watching the cricket. To expect that they’ll trade it in for £50 off their energy bill is to diminish the people and joys in their life.

Yet we need to influence them. A good place to start is remembering that people want fun – and only (normally) respond to threats if they’re very specific.

Find out more about how Global Cool uses fun to promote green behaviours here

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1 Comment to Everyone just wants to have fun

[...] using less heating is better for your skin. Sure, it also saves you money – although we know that isn’t a great motivator – but specific appeals to what  people care about and can imagine are [...]

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We run Global Cool, the only online magazine in the UK truly inspiring the mainstream to live greener

We create content about music, fashion, celebrity and lifestyle trends. We use this content to inspire people normally turned off by climate change to lead greener lives. We reached more than 200,000 people in 2011 and we don't preach to the converted. In fact, 93% of our audience say we are the only green organisation they engage with.

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