February 10, 2014
Environmental cues are signals that are derived from memories when in an environmental setting. Environmental cues have ways that can alter an individual's perception of the world, and can affect memory recalls, decision- making, and human behavior. There are different reactions from any individuals concerning environmental cues that would lead him or her to behave differently. How Environmental Cues Shapes Human Behavior
Environmental cues can have direct or indirect impact on the mindset of an individual, both cognitively and behaviorally. It would have not mattered if consciously or unconsciously, he or she will attempt to locate physical markers in the environmental setting to create boundaries. There was a research conducted by Columbia Business School, where several objects were placed at different places leading up to the ATM. Research has shown that individuals initiated tasks such as removing their wallets, or taking their ATM cards from wallets or purses leading up to the ATM. According to Columbia Business School (2012), “cues that are not directly related to an individual’s goal can have a substantial effect in a task environment, influencing cognition and the subsequent manner in which the task is completed” (Columbia Business School, 2012, para. 3). An example of how environmental cues affect behavior – a customer enters a wine bar where the bar only serves wines, nothing else. He or she hears Spanish music wafting through the building. The music is very light, beautiful, and the song is sung in Spanish. This prompts the customer to purchase Spanish wine to enjoy. The environmental cue in this was music. The wine bar’s goal was to get people to feel good with Spanish music, and purchase Spanish wines.
Modifying Behavior to Support Sustainability
There are different ways that an individual will modify their behavior in certain ways to adapt to the changing conditions of the world today. The behaviors are modified to support sustainability, and in other words – to enable him or her to live the life he or she desired. For example, turning off lights when he or she is not in the room can conserve energy. The behavior of turning off energy is modified to conserve energy. If 100 people modified their behavior to do this at the same time, they are conserving tremendous amount of energy instead of wasting energy, and in return, helps them support sustainability for a long time. According to Vlek and Steg (2007), as human population increases, material consumption increases, and production of technology expands; the quantity and quality of environmental resources will keep decreasing (Vlek & Steg, 2007, p. 3). A good example of this happening is the consumption of crops has increased over the years, in which has led companies to create hybrid vegetables that may seem harmful to our bodies. The quality of crops has decreased due to increased amounts of chemicals, and genetic manipulation of DNA in vegetable crops. However, the sustainability approach is that with the growth of human population, there must be something done to sustain the growing population. To many, the idea of genetically modified food sounds awful, and to many it is a blessing in disguise. The modifications that humans do for the greater good in sustainability limits the negative impact to the environment happens by changing the perspective in how he or she does in his or her every-day life. Instead of depending on genetically-modified crops, he or she can grow their own crops that may be much better for health reasons, or form a community garden where the communities contribute a time to raise a garden. In a way, the point is that the more humans deplete natural resources, the harder it is to avoid creating natural resources without destroying the planet's ecosystems. Sustainability is a necessity to support a growing population of this world. Social Norms
Social norms are generally unwritten rules on how he or she behaves in the society. Social norms provide an insight on how behaviors are perceived in a social group or culture. McLeod explains that the “idea of norms provide a key to understanding social influence in general and conformity in particular” (McLeod, 2008, para. 4). Social norms can be found in friendships or work groups. These social norms are a powerful way in helping researchers understand and predict what people will do in a society. Without the social norms, the human society cannot function successfully because humans depend on social norms as a guide, to direct their behavior, and to provide order and predictability in social relationships to make sense of other people's actions. This behavior is one of the reasons why most people tend to conform to social norms out of need. One example of social norm is technology. Technology expansion has increased over the years, in which has people buying the latest mobile devices such as the Iphones. He or she feels the need to conform with the culture of obtaining the latest Iphone. Those who do not have Iphones were considered to be out of loop, "old school", or behind technology advancement. This condescending behavior is a part of social norm toward those who do not have Iphones, and the sense that he or she belong to an "elite group" of those who do have Iphones is also another part of social norm. Another example is littering. Littering is a problem everywhere. In India, there is a river called Yamuna River, and it is one of the most polluted rivers of the world; yet it is esteemed by many Indians. 15out of 32 sewage treatment plants are operating below their capacities, increasing the pollution in the river. There is a high level of toxins in the river, especially ammonia (Kaur, 2014). The increase in urban population is increasing the pollution of the river, and it is the human conformity that everyone must pray in such polluted water to Hindu Gods. There are times where conformity can be dangerous or be for the greater good for the environment. Changing Behaviors to Lessen Negative Impacts
There are two solutions that would change behavior to lessen negative impacts on the planet's ecosystem. The first solution is education. Educating others about the plight of the planet's damages made by humans can be effective. The more people become aware of the problem, the more people begin to change their behavior from negative to positive. It has to start at home, especially with children because they imitate his or her parents' behaviors. If a child sees his or her mother turning off lights whenever she leaves the room, the chances are the child will pick up the behavior and continue to do the same throughout his or her life. Educating is a powerful tool because it has the ability to change a person, regardless if they are willing to accept it or not. The second solution would be to employ better use of technology that would allow people see the changes happening to the earth. Media is a good use of technology because the media has the power to spread word, publish, or act out what is happening globally. The more technology that we utilize, the more access we have to many different types of applications to show us. For example, one popular app for all platforms is Google Earth. This type of app allows the user to roam all over the planet, and it is a remarkable way to see the changes that are happening globally. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Google Earth displayed an amazing view of before and after photos of Louisiana’s coastline gone. Those were very powerful images that send messages that unless our behavior toward earth changes, earth will see an increase of wild and unruly weathers.
Human behavior is one of the most complex concepts to tackle but the idea is that for every person in the world leaves an imprint of what he or she contributed to the planet’s ecosystem. Sustainability has become a necessity in order for the human population to survive; no longer entertaining the idea that it is a want. Every person must embrace change in order to keep going forward, not backwards in doing the greater good for the environment. Leo Tolstoy said it best, "everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself" (Tolstoy, 1852).
Kaur, R. (2014, January 7). The most polluted river Yamuna. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/the-most-polluted-river-yamuna The Literature Network (2014). Leo Tolstoy - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/ McLeod, S. (2005). Social Roles and Social Norms - Simply Psychology. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-roles.html Vlek, C., & Steg, L. (2007). Human Behavior and Environmental Sustainability: Problems, Driving Forces, and Research Topics. Journal of Social Issues, 63(1), 1-19. Retrieved from http://www.rug.nl/staff/e.m.steg/vlekstegjsi.pdf Columbia Business School. (2012, September 21). Virtual boundaries: How environmental cues affect motivation and task-oriented behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 10, 2014 from www.ScienceDaily.com/releases/2012/09/120921124525.htm