Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Tuesday 21 September 2010

Behavior is less rational than we may think

We tend to make ‘hot’ choices – “what I want to have”, over ‘cold’ choices – “who I want to be”. Satisfying immediate needs is an instinct humans share with animals: (fast) food, sex, power, whatever turns you on. Civilization has also brought other values, says psychologist Roos Vonk, but mostly those moral values lose from our instincts. We consume on impulses to satisfy our immediate desires. Even if it means compromising our moral values of fair trade, child labor, CO2 and ecological footprints, health etc. Unconsciously our mind ‘explains away’ the potential objections from our consciousness, so that we still can feel good, whatever choice we make.
Firstly our mind acts like a spin doctor when dealing with cognitive dissonancy: “For a healthy diet I simply need to eat meat”; “meat is just delicious, I can’t imagine a meal without it”; “I already do so much for the environment”; “Biological products are far too expensive”; “I only eat biological meat or buy fair trade products” Etc.
Secondly our mind unconsciously appeals to the paradigm of individualism: “I want to do my thing”, “I have a right to live and consume the way I prefer”, “I am free to choose what makes me happy”; “I happen to like buying new stuff”; “I do what is good for me”; “I follow my gut feelings and instincts” Etc.
Thirdly our mind appeals to dominant social and moral values: “it is not immoral to eat meat, to fly etc.”; “There is no law against…”; “The government acts in the same way”.
In communicating sustainability Roos argues it is best to address the hot choices by appealing to cold the ones: “do you have an inferiority complex that you need to drive a Hummer?”; “If you consume like others, is that compatible with your personal values?”; “Isn’t it the core of individual freedom to pursue the values you belief in?”

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