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Play now 28 mins


28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 14 December 2009

What would convince you to change your lifestyle and use less energy? Despite more people than ever knowing about climate change, few actually do much to minimise their environmental impact. Why are people so reluctant to change their ways and how can they be persuaded?

Claudia Hammond looks at the psychology of saving the planet through the science of persuasion and the subtle techniques which might get us all to behave differently. She is joined in the studio by two guests, Simon Retallack from the British think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research which has produced a detailed report on how to get British people to adopt six chosen behaviours to minimise environmental impact, and Professor of Psychology Alan Kazdin from Yale University who recently gave an address to the American Psychological Association on the role of psychology in climate change.

Among the conclusions of the discussions and research are that more information about Climate Change is not effective in making people change behaviour - instead techniques that use financial incentives, fashion and fun are more likely to succeed.

Professor Noah Goldstein from the University of California at Los Angeles reports on his own successful trial using persuasion to make people in hotels re-cycle their towels. By changing the wording in hotel rooms he increased re-cycling of towels by 33 per cent. If people are given information that lets them know that other people in the room before them re-cycled towels they tend to want to do the same. If they are only told that recycling towels will help the environment far fewer people choose to re-cycle.


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