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How to drive long-lasting change

When aiming to change people’s behavior, almost everyone relies on the standard approach: tell each other what to do. Last year was filled with recommendations and orders: “Wear a mask” and “Stay at home”. The same approach is used when trying to move towards greater sustainability: “Don’t drive your car” and “Don’t eat too much meat”. Directives are not effective in driving long-lasting changes because we do not feel in control of our own decisions. Our intuitive reaction is to push back and neglect the recommendations.

There are other, more effective ways to drive long-lasting change. You can increase people’s sense of freedom and control as well as provoke a long-lasting change by pointing out a disconnect between thoughts and actions. We strive for internal consistency; we want our believes and actions to line up. Whenever this is not the case, we change to restore the balance. The video below highlights the disconnect between our acceptance of child labor in the third world countries and the disbelief when being offered the same practices in Germany. This approach triggers a thought process which could never be achieved by simply saying “Don’t buy clothing produced by children.” We need to change how we address issues and challenges to provoke actual change and not cause resistance and frustration.