For decades, the global conservation community has developed conservation programs using a limited toolkit of economic incentives, awareness campaigns, and rules and regulations. Based on more than four decades of field experience, Rare has built a new conservation toolkit that leverages the latest insights from behavioral science.

Developed by the Center for Behavior & the Environment, this new toolkit emphasizes key principles of behavior-centered design, which include:

Emotional Appeals

We know that humans are a highly emotional species.

Psychologists say we have two systems in our brain. System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional, while system 2 is slow, logical and rational. Both systems are important and powerful. To motivate change, we must be careful to communicate to both systems.

Social Incentives

Contrary to common assumptions, people are not inherently selfish.

We have evolved to become intrinsically social animals with a profound need to belong and a desire to cooperate. We care what others think about us and are highly responsive to social influences, often modeling our behavior after those we like and trust. In other words, we behave not purely as individuals, but as members of any number of social groups to which we belong. Thus, changing an individual’s behavior means changing a group’s norms.

Choice Architecture

Humans have strange, seemingly irrational ways of making judgements and decisions that have been helpful throughout evolution, but that often defy rational logic.

Highly influenced by the context of our decision-making, we instinctively look for information that confirms existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts it. We prefer simplicity, have a limited attention span, and go out of our way to avoid hassles—even when the costs of avoidance outweigh the benefits. We can influence the choices people make by changing the manner in which options are presented to them.

The Center for Behavior & the Environment

Learn more about the BE.Center’s other initiatives.

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