How behavioral science can help conservation

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Science  23 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6417, pp. 889-890
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau6028


Most conservation initiatives require changes in human behavior. For example, the establishment of a protected area will typically require some people to change their land-use or fishing practices. Yet conventional attempts to encourage proenvironmental behavior through awareness campaigns, financial incentives, and regulation can prove ineffective (1, 2). Insights into inducing behavior change from the social and behavioral sciences are therefore of critical importance for conservation scientists and practitioners (24). Conservation initiatives have begun to leverage a wide range of such behavioral insights (5) particularly regarding cognitive biases and social influence (see the figure). However, their application in the diverse socioeconomic and cultural contexts in which many conservation programs operate raises important ethical and implementation-related challenges.

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