Psychology of Change: Creating New Water Habits By Mojave River Watershed Group

Who are we?

Our approach

To affect change we must influence thought and emotion.

  • Research
  • Persuasion Theory
  • Storytelling


Our objective

Protect High Desert water.

  • School outreach
  • Community outreach
  • Business outreach
  • Digital outreach
Campus clean up at Ranchero Middle School, 2017
Intro to Behavioral Change


Behavior change can refer to any transformation or modification of human behavior. It may also refer to a broad range of activities and approaches which focus on the individual, community and environmental influences on behavior.

Why should behavioral change matter to public awareness/education campaigns?

Behavioral change is lasting change.
Victorville Community Clean Up Day, 2017

We need to be MORE strategic in how we build our campaigns. We can't just TELL people to use water wisely and protect it, we need to persuade them.

They must BELIEVE in your objective and internalize it so that they can take personal responsibility.

Question: Can you think of a public campaign that successfully achieved behavioral change?

The Building Blocks

How Do We Create Successful Campaigns Focused on Behavioral Change?

Meet Dr. Robert Cialdini.

Dr. Cialdini's book on persuasion and marketing, "Influence: 'The Psychology of Persuasion,'" is a best-selling book on how to effectively create behavioral change.

There are six principals to implement.

Note: Not ALL of these principals need to be used at once.

#1 Reciprocity

People feel obligated to give back if they receive a gift or service first.


  • Offering rebate or a free reusable water bottle (or even candy) at a community event

MRWG Example

Note: This tactic can also be used in your social media campaigns.

#2 Scarcity

People believe that things are more valuable when they are less available.


  • Store closing sale
  • Unique features in a home for sale
  • Limited edition gardening tools

MRWG Example

#3 Authority

This is the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts.


  • Our innate desire to listen and respect someone in uniform

MRWG Example

#4 Consistency

People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.


  • A parent that tells their child littering is bad will want to remain a consistent role model by also not littering

MRWG Example

#5 Liking

People prefer to say yes to those they like.


  • People who are similar to us
  • People who pay us compliments
  • People who cooperate with us towards mutual goals

MRWG Example

We also use this tactic with our social media.

By using similar pop culture devices in our social media, we are mirroring our follower's habits and seen as more likable.

#6 Consensus

People will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own.


  • Hotels that use a table tent in their bathrooms to state that 75% of guests reuse their towels to save water

MRWG Example

Now It's Time to Implement!

Before using these principles...

Determine who your audience is, your goal and what channel of communication you are going to use.

Like I said earlier, not ALL of these principles need to be applied at once. Use them wisely and ETHICALLY.

These tactics are not meant to be used to make you a "master manipulator" but rather, to help boost your signal and make your messaging more effective.

The Six Principle Round Up

How many can you remember?

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