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Posts Tagged ‘Carbon Rally’

Some very exciting research in the field of social networks psychology, could revolutionize the way green ventures approach citizens. The latest study, by Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School, and James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, reports on the social factors in quitting smoking. It was published this morning in the New England Journal of Medicine, and is already creating ripples throughout the media, starting with the New York Times. From the study’s abstract:

The study examined the extent to which groups of widely connected people quit smoking together.

The results showed that:

  • Whole groups of people were quitting in concert 
  • Smokers were also progressively found in the periphery of the social network
  • Smoking cessation by a spouse decreased a person’s chances of smoking by 67% Smoking cessation by a sibling decreased the chances by 25% 
  • Smoking cessation by a friend decreased the chances by 36% 
  • Among persons working in small firms, smoking cessation by a coworker decreased the chances by 34% 
  • Friends with more education influenced one another more than those with less education. 
  • These effects were not seen among neighbors in the immediate geographic area.

Conclusions are :

  • Network phenomena appear to be relevant to smoking cessation. 
  • Groups of interconnected people stop smoking in concert, and smokers are increasingly marginalized socially.

These results are similar to results of a prior study from same authors on obesity. The network effect is at work not just in the halting of negative behaviors, such as smoking or unhealthy weight gain, but also in the spreading of positive life changes such as happiness. The latter will be documented in a forthcoming study by the authors on,’The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network’.

The implications for climate strategies are obvious. Behavioral change conservation efforts, will work best if focused on groups, not just individuals. This is a confirmation of the research done by the ‘Nudge‘ team at University of Chicago. The smoking study also shows which clusters to focus on. Friends, as in Facebook or Twitter, coworkers as in Carbon Rally, spouses as in family systems

Thanks, Meryn, for all the links

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Featured on TechCrunch, Carbon Rally, the latest player in green social networking:

CarbonRally applies gaming and social networking concepts to environmental activism by challenging participants to take positive steps against carbon emissions. Boston based CarbonRally offers a series of carbon reducing challenges, such as not drinking bottled water, dumping shopping bags and leaving your car at home, whereby users can compete against others to become the most carbon friendly participant. Current users include Google’s offices in Boston and Pittsburgh who are openly aiming to beat one and other. The competition is all in good fun with no prizes offered, however CarbonRally is looking at corporate sponsorship of challenges in the future. If you’re passionate about carbon emissions, CarbonRally providers a fun and friendly forum from which you can join others in saving the world.

This is a great example of well understood green psychology translated into a brilliantly executed business idea. Americans love to compete, and play. Take those traits, apply them to real life micro-communities, with a twist of corporate pressure, and you’ve got a great recipe for inducing positively green behavioral changes. Fundamentally, human beings are pleasure seeking creatures. Let’s not forget that basic psychological truth, in our efforts to get people to green their lifestyles.

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