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


Tuesday 29 May 2012

Beliefs stronger than comprehension

Public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. A recent study showes that beliefs are stronger than comprehension of scientific knowledge. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest. At the one hand there is the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties. At the other hand there is the collective interest they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare. The conflict between the personal (often short term) interest and the collective (often long term) interest, is in many cases won by the the former. That is the reason that more information does not work. Information is an intervention at the action level. For positive change we first and foremost will need interventions at the level of experience and beliefs.

Monday 28 May 2012

Mainstreaming = change

Mainstreaming is helping others to change and managing that change process. It is not focusing on wrong behavior and telling others what to do and what not to do. It is important to explore first current experiences and beliefs of the audience about the issue of mainstreaming. Audience research for a communication strategy should clarify in what stage of change the audience is. That will determine the communication objectives, messages and means to help them move to a next stage.

Friday 18 May 2012

Instruments to change behaviour

A different way to present the stick, carrot and drums. The picture also illustrates that in the end it is about the instrument mix. Without communication a law will not work, as nobody would know about it. The same for the carrot. Only in some cases communication can work as a stand alone instrument, e.g. in the case of (1) an existing positive attitude or sufficient internal motivation of the audience, or (2) when adequate facilitating infrastructure is present or (3) when there is adequate social group pressure for the new behaviour. In most cases we need the right instrument mix.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Strategic communication

Communication is not strategic when it is end of pipe; when it starts with thinking about channels and media, and when it cannot answer questions what will it change and how do we measure success?

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Commerce reduction or demand reduction

As long as there is demand and scarcity, illegal trade will continue...! This TV spot aims to help reducing the consumption of wild meat in the Ecudorian Amazon region. It is part of the IUCN/TRAFFIC project to explore - in a participatory way - the causes, contexts and alternatives for current illegal practices of hunting, trading and selling of wild meat. There are more radio and TV spots. Special videos for bus passengers on their way to the region. Certificates for restaurants that do not sell wild meat. There is a lot of investment in the supply side: capacity development of women and youth in indigenous communities, alternative livelihoods for families of hunters etc. As to the demand side it looks a bit meagre: I doubt whether the information of the videos will resonate with the consumers in the Amazon cities. It may with tourists. Behavior change of tourists might be a start for awareness raising in the cities. But more is needed to change behavior of the majority of the Amazon city (mestizo) folks. What are the motives for their preference for wild meat? What would be strategies for behavior change? The current appeal to their care for the environment may not work. What would be more 'cool' to eat? And how could we promote that? What could be the role of youth in spreading ideas and 'policing' parents and families? All major challenges for next steps in the project! Because as long as there is demand and scarcity, illegal trade will continue!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Biodiversity stamps

Postage stamps are a good way for mainstreaming biodiversity. At least this is the opinion of Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services . In cooperation with the Finnish Postal Services they just brought out a new stamp in their series of national parks. I wonder what the impact is in the age of internet. On the web it is easy to find a few more examples from other countries. The use of logo of the IYB makes at least some sense to me.

Monday 7 May 2012

More time, less words, more clarity

It always takes time to be concise. "Help me with a few bullets to remember our conversation yesterday about education and why learning is a better word today to ask attention for this aspect of conservation and sustainable development?" I first used about 350 words in a mail to answer this question. Later in the day I took the time to summarize it in these few bullets. It helped me too to get more clarity.

Friday 4 May 2012

Audience first - Means later

What communicates climate change science best? WRI is researching which method works better: web cam talk, conversation or whiteboard talk. You can watch three scientists present the findings of their studies, using each time a different method, and then vote. The answers however may depend very much on the intended audience: other colleague climate scientists (web cam?); students and academics (whiteboard talk?); politicians or general public maybe none of these, as there is no clear message and action perspective. This all illustrates the need in communication to define the audience first, then the behaviour change we are after (inlcudng the obstacles to get there), then the message and only at that point in time the communication means!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Timeline as tool

Timelines work even better than maps, especially when they work with animation. I realized this not only through the popularity of the new face book look but also when a friend of mine made me aware of maps of war. One application on this site shows 5,000 years history of religions in 90 seconds. Others clarify details of major wars or geopolitical tensions. I wonder what this might do for biodiversity.