Climate change is the result of many human activities, from carbon emissions to deforestation, and it will take multiple and varied interventions to mitigate it, including legislation, regulation, and market-based solutions implemented at local, national, and global levels. Demand-side factors, such as changes in social norms, can also help by creating political pressure for increased climate action. In addition, they can strengthen the efficacy of other interventions, for example by increasing the acceptance and adoption of new technologies or adherence to laws and regulations.
In the latest issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, an interdisciplinary team of researchers reports on how social norms—“patterns of behaviors or values that depend on expectations about what others do and/or think should be done”—can be harnessed to bring about collective climate action and policy change. They emphasize that although social norm interventions can be powerful drivers of social change, they can also reinforce unsustainable behaviors and attitudes and require deep contextual knowledge to be used effectively.