Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Positive Environmentalism - the role of fun and games

"Consultant Paula Owen hopes the 12-month study will encourage people to change their behaviour and reduce their environmental impacts. She said that people did not engage with 'doom and gloom' messages, leaving them feeling powerless."

One recent article by the BBC has highlighted the role of positive thinking and games in encouraging pro-environment behaviour. These games are targeted at people who have not been involved with environmental issues before. Researchers found anecdotal evidence that through engaging with the games in a positive way environmental education and awareness was improved, now they working on quantifying this evidence.

The games in this research are similar to the environmental games that were used in the AgDialogue meetings. These games were created by Motu to facilitate understanding of emissions and water trading schemes. Players of the game 'run' a dairy or sheep/beef farm (water quality) or a smelter or power plant (emissions). Changes to regulations are introduced in the game and players have to respond by altering the operation of their farms/facilities. You can find more information on these games here.

The reasoning behind using games to increase environmental awareness is also being re-enforced by a new area of psychology that looks into the psychology of sustainability. Niki Harré’s recent book "Psychology for a Better World" highlights this research and discusses the importance of positive emotions in driving shifts in behaviour. Her work is more related to personal behavioural actions but it is easy to see how her work supports the importance of the fun and playful ways of learning about environmental issues. Below is a quick introduction to her book and short film.

Post written by R. Cretney.

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