Next Article in Journal
Trajectory Data Analysis on the Spatial and Temporal Influence of Pedestrian Flow on Path Planning Decision
Previous Article in Journal
The Importance of Price in Poland’s Carp Market
Article

Nudges, Norms, or Just Contagion? A Theory on Influences on the Practice of (Non-)Sustainable Behavior

School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, 701 82 Örebro, Sweden
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10418; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410418
Received: 19 November 2020 / Revised: 11 December 2020 / Accepted: 11 December 2020 / Published: 13 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development)
‘Nudging’ symbolizes the widespread idea that if people are only provided with the ‘right’ options and contextual arrangements, they will start consuming sustainably. Opposite to this individual-centered, top-down approach stand observations highlighting the ‘contagiousness’ of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of reference groups or persons present in a decision-context. Tying in these two lines, this paper argues that nudging may sound promising and easily applicable, yet the social dynamics occurring around it can easily distort or nullify its effects. This argument stems from empirical evidence gained in an exploratory observation study conducted in a Swedish cafeteria (N = 1073), which included a ‘nudging’ treatment. In the study, people in groups almost unanimously all chose the same options. After rearranging the choice architecture to make a potentially sustainable choice easier, people stuck to this mimicking behavior—while turning to choose more the non-intended option than before. A critical reflection of extant literature leads to the conclusion that the tendency to mimic each other (unconsciously) is so strong that attempts to nudge people towards certain choices appear overwhelmed. Actions become ‘contagious’; so, if only some people stick to their (consumption) habits, it may be hard to induce more sustainable behaviors through softly changing choice architectures. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable consumption; peer influence; mimicking; social contagion; nudging sustainable consumption; peer influence; mimicking; social contagion; nudging
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Zorell, C.V. Nudges, Norms, or Just Contagion? A Theory on Influences on the Practice of (Non-)Sustainable Behavior. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10418. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410418

AMA Style

Zorell CV. Nudges, Norms, or Just Contagion? A Theory on Influences on the Practice of (Non-)Sustainable Behavior. Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10418. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410418

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zorell, Carolin V. 2020. "Nudges, Norms, or Just Contagion? A Theory on Influences on the Practice of (Non-)Sustainable Behavior" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10418. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410418

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop