Choosing Effective Behavior Change Tools

Achieving a sustainable future will require that people do things differently. Community-based social marketing (CBSM) provides a framework for fostering sustainable behavior, and the approach is being increasingly utilized across a range of domains including energy conservation, recycling, reducing water consumption, promoting sustainable seafood consumption, and many others. This article provides guidance to practitioners about the optimal use of specific behavior change tools. The article summarizes commitment strategies, social diffusion, goal setting, social norms, prompts, incentives, feedback, and convenience as effective tools for encouraging changes in behavior. For each, we summarize the basic approach and provide recommendations regarding when each tool is most appropriate, depending on the existing levels of barriers and benefits associated with the target behavior. The article concludes with three examples of CBSM to illustrate this selection process.