Using theory and evidence to design behaviour change interventions for reducing unsustainable wildlife consumption.

Published online
29 Oct 2021
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Doughty, H. & Oliver, K. & Veríssimo, D. & Lee SerHuay [Lee, S. H. J.] & Milner-Gulland, E. J.
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Efforts to shift unsustainable human behaviour are at the crux of many conservation interventions, particularly when addressing illegal or unsustainable wildlife trade. These efforts, often in the form of behaviour change interventions, have proven largely unable to counteract this pervasive issue, however, leading to calls for more robust intervention designs. In behavioural science fields like public health, design processes that integrate human behaviour theory and evidence from data collection are often developed to ground behaviour change interventions within a strong understanding of the context, thus supporting interventions that are efficient and have a higher likelihood of success. Here we detail the foundational process of designing an intervention around the use of a wildlife product by a particular group: Singaporean consumers of saiga horn (from the Critically Endangered Saiga tatarica). We employ both qualitative and quantitative data, along with human behaviour theories and past literature on the study system, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the many influences driving this target audience to purchase saiga horn products. We use this insight to identify the key influences to leverage in a behaviour change intervention: those that are both the most powerful and the most amenable to change. This work provides a reproducible process which can be used by other intervention implementers, highlights the often complex intricacies of socially influenced behaviour, and demonstrates why a methodical understanding of these intricacies is invaluable when attempting to shift human behaviour for conservation goals.

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