Leaning on our inherent desire to ‘belong’ is a core strategy for all causes. Our research showed that the most powerful social lever is wanting to be seen as normal.

All people respond to these levers to some extent, but there are some particular peaks among certain mindsets, showing the potential of segmentation in achieving goals. Here we explain five ways to leverage our desire to belong for the good of the planet.

1. Normality

Across the UK population, knowing something is the ‘normal thing to do’ was the highest (self-reported) social lever. Tapping into our inherent desire to fit in is a powerful tool in our armoury. But this works much more effectively for some than others (for many, ‘standing out’ is crucial). Waste Watchers and Anxious Escapists are two mindsets who are particularly keen not to be seen as doing something unusual. This makes them late adopters on the spectrum of innovation, but once a behaviour is widely considered to be the ‘right thing to do’ they can be reliably be seen undertaking it. To evoke normality for these mindsets, focus on communications which show mass adoption and peers undertaking activities together.

2. Feeling part of a movement

People power is a great option for Justice Defenders, who shun ‘normality’ more than most, but want to feel part of something bigger than themselves, taking action together: they want to find their place in the resistance.

Justice Defenders won’t just want to see action being taken, they’ll want to find connection to others who have acted, and be given opportunities to contribute themselves. This desired ‘contribution’ for Justice Defenders tends to be political (petition signing, sharing on social media, protest etc). Even better if it’s shareable so they’re able to publicly talk about what they’ve done.

3. Seeing others’ success

Nature Enthusiasts aren’t hugely socially driven when it comes to behaviours. Their personal interest in nature is their driver. They are motivated, however, by seeing progress elsewhere, and this includes the progress of others. Showing communities coming together for their local environment will be really motivating for this mindset, who often have a passion for particular landscapes or locations.

4. Pledges or public commitments

While some people have more intrinsic motivations, doing things because they know them to be right, others can have, in addition to these ethical drivers, more ‘extrinsic’ reasons for acting – being given small, public ‘rewards’ for their achievements. Conscientious Collaborators fall into this category. Belonging is hugely important to them. Offering something to work towards (a pledge, a fundraising goals or similar) is a big incentive for this mindsets, as well as the recognition at the end if the target is met. Conscientious Collaborators, as the name suggests, also believe in the power of coming together, so even better if they can see how their total contributes to the whole.

5. Shaming

Shame is a lever to be used sparingly. As an emotion that does the opposite of empower, there is a risk it could alienate potential supporters. In general, we found this to be the social lever that people across the UK were least responsive to.

But one mindset bucked the average. Uncompromising Consumers are a mindset who see the environment as a low priority, so are unlikely to do much unless not doing the behaviour reflects badly on them. Leaning on shame (through CCTV for example) might be something to lean on for illegal behaviours (such as fly tipping or littering) but is unlikely to be effective for much else.

Eco Mindsets is an open framework for organisations to use to support their decision making. However, it can also be used more tangibly through segmenting newsletter lists, databases, or populations.

Sign up to stay in touch and hear more about using Eco Mindsets.

To speak to us more about how you might be able to use Eco Mindsets to boost your work, contact our Consultant and Eco Lead Laura Karban

Catch up with the rest of this series

Closing the intention to action gap

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Playing on emotion to incite environmental action

In this article, we explore the different types of language and approaches that play on key emotions to prompt each mindset to transform concern for the environment into action.

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Eco Mindsets

Eco mindsets is a new psychographic profiling system that helps cause led organisations understand what drives people to act for the environment, and what they can do to encourage greater action in future.

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