Sustainable Behaviour: Save the Environment

Topics: Psychology, Overfishing, Computer simulation Pages: 3 (756 words) Published: December 7, 2008
Sustainable Behavior: Save the Environment
Our world is currently facing the commons dilemma described by economist William Lloyd. To avoid this ‘tragedy’ of complete resource depletion scientists, including psychologists, have been studying what factors influence sustainable behaviour. This research examines the effects of group size and communication on efficient harvesting of a renewable resource. The study uses a computer simulation program designed to resemble fisheries – significant in the recent Atlantic fisheries crisis. Results were inconclusive, further analysis including examination of variable interactions is recommended. Factors Influencing Sustainable Behaviour: Communication and Group Size

The availability of commons resources – such as clean air, clean drinking water, underground crude oil, or fish in the oceans – is decreasing rapidly and exponentially in the last few decades. It is even more shocking that this increased extraction not only did not stop once recognized in the 1970s, but actually hastened even more (Gifford, 2007). Today it is becoming ever more evident that our children’s and grandchildren’s future has been sacrificed for our self interested profits. Despite many smaller indigenous societies’ ability to live in equilibrium with their environment, and sustainably manage the commons for centuries, the modern western world is rapidly fulfilling William Lloyd’s and Garret Hardin’s “prophecy,” (Psychology 350 lecture), the “Tragedy of the Commons” (as cited in Gifford, 2007). This happens when people extracting limited resources from the commons act first and foremost in their self-interest to maximize their personal gain, which in turn leads to over-harvesting, and eventually the full depletion of these resources. Psychology research has – in the last few decades – begun to focus on Commons dilemmas, examining people’s tendencies to over-exploit resources, to be competitive, or to co-operate. One strategy of...
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