How our social circles can influence our attitudes towards sustainable packaging

Guest blog post by Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, Dr Becky Spelman

It’s long been known that humans are creatures of influence. From the advertising we see in magazines and on our screens, to the social media feeds we can’t help but continue scrolling through, we’re constantly bombarded with messages that influence our behaviour.

But, aside from these influential powers convincing us to buy a new pair of trainers, or try the latest vitamin drink, could the power of influence be used for good? Could the power of influence shape our attitudes towards sustainable packaging?

New research by Beyond the Box1 indicates this could be the case.

In fact, it reveals that some of us are more likely to adopt positive behaviours, like recycling, when we feel social pressure – whether we’re feeling concerned about being judged or wanting to emulate someone we admire.

Human beings are social animals – we tend to want to behave in a way that’s similar to those around us. Often, people follow the herd, but it is also possible for a relatively small number of people to change group behaviour, if the people in question are perceived as having a high social status or other desirable traits, that is.

Beyond the Box’s latest research reveals that almost a quarter of us believe that successful people recycle more, and most of us are more likely to recycle if we feel that it will impress an authority figure in our lives. This is good news, because it means that the more people recycle, the better we will become at behaving sustainably—individually and as a society. In psychological terms, this is known as “ingratiation”, which means that people use behaviours generally perceived as positive to appear more likable.

But, whether your intention is to help look after the planet, or to get in the boss’s good books, reinforcing positive behaviours – such as recycling cardboard packaging – can only be a good thing.

About the author

Dr Becky Spelman has over 17 years of experience working in the field of mental health, she treats a wide range of disorders such as anxiety, depression, relationship issue, behaviour change and many more. Dr Spelman and her team are highly experienced at offering support to anyone who wants to achieve goals related to behaviour change or who wants help with any psychological issue.

1Consumer research of 2,057 adults conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Beyond the Box. 23.08.19 – 27.08.19