So imagine that you are Jerry Brown. (I know, kind of weird, huh?) How do you get Californians to conserve water? Much is being made about using sticks (instead of carrots) and even shaming via social media. Perhaps the way to change behavior is to take a page out of the playbook used by diplomats and astute policymakers: urge cooperation and playing to our social side.
What does consistently work may be surprising: interventions based not on money, but on leveraging social concerns.
There are two ways to do this, both building on people’s desire for others to think highly of them. One is to make people’s cooperative (or selfish) choices more observable to others, like neighbors or co-workers. The second works in the opposite direction, providing people with information about how others around them are behaving (this is called a “descriptive social norm”).
And perhaps “conservation diplomacy” can become a thing?