Jeni Cross is a sociology professor at Colorado State University. She has spoken about community development and sustainability to audiences across the country, from business leaders and government officials to community activists. In this thoughtful talk, she focuses on the sociology of behavior change. Her university biography page notes:

“What we believe about a situation—what we think others are doing, what we think they expect us to do, what we think is the right thing to do—has a profound effect on our behavior. If we think that other people are engaging in a behavior (e.g. turning off lights when leaving an office, reusing hotel towels), then we are more likely ourselves to engage in that behavior.

A variety of behaviors from substance use to energy conservation can be influenced through media campaigns which report the actual behavioral norms (description social norms). Dr. Cross has worked with elementary schools, middle school, high schools, and universities to encourage healthy behaviors and reduce unhealthy behaviors. The projects she has evaluated or helped to design have reduced unhealthy behaviors—drinking and driving, alcohol use, tobacco use—and increased healthy behaviors like school engagement and energy conservation.”

If influencing people and motivating change is on your agenda, set aside the 20 minutes to view this talk!

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