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This study discusses the need for a new approach for addressing environmental issues – because current approaches are either not working or not working at a significant scale – and the role of individuals in both creating and resolving environmental issues. An analysis of the social nature of individual decision-making, with an emphasis on social and descriptive norms, is presented to provide background in the subject that serves as the fundamental topic behind this paper’s main argument. Empirical research then offers an opportunity to demonstrate not only the presence of undesirable (largely descriptive) norms that foster unsustainable individual decision-making and habits, but also the inability of individuals to recognize the role of such norms on their behavior. After analyzing the results of a study conducted at the University of Oxford in July 2011 addressing the presence of unsustainable norms, the paper concludes by stressing the advantages of using the power of norms to more effectively address environmental issues.
Date Posted: 08 May 2016